Spartans win 11th straight

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Kelli Roehrig and Kristin Haynie were determined to add one more chapter to their legacy at Michigan State -- a victory in the Big Ten semifinals.

Roehrig finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Haynie added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists to help the Spartans (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) post an 83-76 victory over Penn State (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) on Sunday and get into their first conference title game.

"I thought Kristin and Kelli were steady, focused and did what they do," Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "They commanded the team."

Michigan State (27-3) will face another first-time finalist, No. 15 Minnesota, on Monday. The Gophers, who the Spartans swept in the season series, upset Ohio State 66-63 in overtime.

The team's only seniors added to their school records for most wins in a season and most wins over a four-year span. After sharing the Big Ten regular-season title with Ohio State, they appear to have changed their postseason reputation.

Michigan State was just 5-10 in tournament play before Friday and hadn't won two tournament games in the same year since 1995.

The Spartans have won 11 straight since losing 73-56 at Penn State on Jan. 23. They also snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Nittany Lions.

"Our past hasn't been very bright with Penn State, so this game obviously means a lot," Roehrig said. "It was just a good win."

The Spartans had four players reach double figures and they shot 56 percent from the field, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range.

Haynie made all seven of her shots, including two 3-pointers, and both free throws. Roehrig connected on 7-of-8 free throws to help hold off the Nittany Lions.

Liz Shimek finished with 18 points, four assists and two blocks. Lindsay Bowen added 10 points, including her buzzer-beating 3-pointer just before halftime that gave the Spartans a 42-40 lead.

"That shot by Lindsay was phenomenal," Haynie said. "It was a big-time shot."

Penn State (19-10) lost for the second time in three games and was stopped short of making its seventh appearance in the conference championship since 1995.

Coach Rene Portland offered no excuses, even though leading scorer Tanisha Wright struggled offensively before fouling out, 3-point shooter Jess Strom limped through the second half on a bad ankle and backup Jennifer Harris sat out briefly after being helped off the court in the second half.

Jennifer Brenden made six 3s and finished with a career-high 23 points. Strom added 16 points and Wright, the Big Ten's top scorer, was held to 12.

Portland was most upset with her team's defense.

"We gave up a lot of easy buckets," she said. "Defensively, not having Tanisha as the kingpin of our defense when she's out because of fouls hurts us a lot."

For 20 minutes, the teams put on a shooting clinic. Penn State shot 64 percent to Michigan State's 57.1. They combined for nine 3-pointers in the first half and 16 overall.

Michigan State used a 6-0 run to take a 53-48 lead. Strom tried to rally the Nittany Lions, who closed to 66-65 with 7:29 left.

But the Spartans answered with a 7-0 run and never let Penn State get closer than four the rest of the way.