7:00 PM ET, February 23, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A sign hanging in the Breslin Center read "Success is Gender-Neutral" and Michigan State proved it Wednesday night.The Spartans (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) earned at least a share of their second Big Ten title and a banner touting the achievement to add to a large collection of men's title flags with a 77-34 victory over Michigan.The Spartans (25-3, 14-2) can earn their first outright conference championship if Ohio State (12-2) loses at Purdue on Thursday, then beats visiting Penn State (13-2) on Sunday."It would be great to win this title straight out," senior point guard Kristin Haynie said as she stood next to the Big Ten championship trophy. "We're Purdue fans now. Let's see what happens."Haynie played a strong all-around game as Michigan State ended its regular season with nine straight wins and a 13-0 mark at home.Kelli Roehrig had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans."It was a heck of a way to go out," Roehrig, a senior, said of her final home game. "We saved the best for the last two games. To do this on our floor, before our fans, is unbelievable. But we knew this could happen at the beginning of the season."Liz Shimek added 20 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans, who built a 55-21 cushion with a 21-0 run to start the second half, then marked time until the net-snipping ceremony."It was important to practice cutting the nets," fifth-year Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "The more you do it, the more you can repeat it. You want to create successful habits. We want to cut the nets a few more times this year."Michigan (5-21, 1-14), which lost to Michigan State for the sixth straight time and fell to 14-47 in the series, was led by Ta'Shia Walker's eight points. Tabitha Pool, the Big Ten's fifth-leading scorer, had seven points -- 10.1 below her average.The Spartans held the Wolverines to 26.3 percent shooting from the field and 14.3 percent 3-point accuracy. Michigan State also had a 50-31 rebounding edge and helped force 21 turnovers."I felt we did enough in the first half to stay within shouting distance," Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said. "In the second half they upped the pressure and got so many transition baskets."After a 66-64 win over Ohio State before 14,066 fans Sunday, the Spartans drew another 8,904 to Breslin Center, far exceeding their home crowd average of 5,471 for the first 11 games."I means a lot to have everyone here," said Haynie, who had eight points and four assists. "We love them. And they give us chills. We wanted to give them some back. That's how we'll build a tradition and keep winning championships."
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