NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- With Liz Shimek leading a balanced effort,
Michigan State was able to overcome another big game by Oklahoma's
Shimek scored 25 points and had a season-high 14 rebounds to
lead Michigan State (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today; No. 11 AP) to an 80-60 win over Oklahoma (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 17 AP) on
In a meeting of dominant inside players, Shimek guided her team
to victory by simply staying on the court. Michigan State built
much of its lead while Courtney Paris, who entered the game seventh
in the nation in scoring and second in rebounding, was on the
Shimek scored 12 of her 18 first-half points when Paris wasn't
on the floor, and the Spartans took a 34-20 lead at halftime.
"I think Liz has gotten a lot better," Michigan State coach
Joanne McCallie said. "I think Liz also is very overlooked and I
think that she is not appreciated for her versatility and the way
she plays the game."
Paris scored 23 of her 29 points in the second half, but it was
not enough to lead the Sooners back from a 22-point deficit.
With Paris out of the game, the Spartans (7-2) scored the final
10 points of the first half, then continued pulling away with a
14-6 run after the break. Laura Hall hit back-to-back baskets,
Shimek and Rene Haynes made 3-pointers and Victoria Lucas-Perry's
layup pushed Michigan State's lead to 48-26.
"I think we just had the 'pour it on' mentality," Shimek said.
Oklahoma (9-3) rallied with a 13-3 run that included 3-pointers
from Erin Higgins and Chelsi Welch and a three-point play by Paris.
Welch's two free throws pulled Oklahoma within 51-39.
Paris then scored 12 of Oklahoma's next 14 points, but the
Sooners were unable to cut into the Spartans' lead. Consecutive
baskets by Lindsay Bowen, Lucas-Perry and Haynes stretched the lead
to 71-53 and put the game out of reach.
"Courtney can't win games by herself," Higgins said. "We have
to figure out how to help her. She played great today. She played
absolutely out of her mind, but we have to find ways ... to help
her and contribute whether she's on the floor or off the floor."
Michigan State, the national runner-up last season, won for the
first time in three games against ranked teams. The Spartans' only
losses came against No. 1 Tennessee and No. 6 Maryland. McCallie
said facing Paris was a warmup for the Spartans' next game against
No. 3 LSU and Seimone Augustus.
"I didn't think she'd get 29 and 21 against us. That is not
what we wanted," McCallie said. "We're going against LSU next.
We're going against the best center in the country, by far. I guess
this is an interesting couple games."
Lucas-Perry had 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for her
first career double-double. Bowen also scored 15 and Haynes added
Paris also had 12 of her 21 rebounds while playing the entire
second half and was 9-for-20 from the field, while her teammates
were a combined 11-for-52.
"Courtney was terrific," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said.
"She was as competitive as any kid I've ever had for the entire 32
minutes that she played. She just fought like crazy. ... I don't
think we can ask her to do anything else."
Coale said she couldn't explain why players who were performing
well before Paris arrived weren't doing as well now. But she said
scoring 20 points in a half isn't a formula for success.
"We missed a bunch of shots," Coale said. "I wish I could
tell you why. If I could tell you why, I could fix it. Wide-open,
point-blank layups. It wasn't a high degree of difficulty. And once
those bad things start to happen, sometimes things snowball and we
forget who we are. And I thought that happened."
Shimek scored 18 points and had nine rebounds in the first half
and was dominant when Paris wasn't on the floor.
Shimek scored six points in an 11-2 Michigan State run that
started when Paris left for the first time, and capped by Bowen's
3-pointer that put the Spartans ahead 17-8.
Paris re-entered and scored back-to-back baskets as Oklahoma cut
into the deficit with six straight points, but she headed to the
sidelines again after picking up her second foul by ramming into
Bowen on her way up the court without the ball.
After two free throws by Oklahoma's Leah Rush, the Spartans
finished the first half with 10 straight points, including six from
Oklahoma missed its final nine shots of the first half and
didn't have a field goal after Paris' basket with 7:43 left.
"We took a team defensive approach to this game because it's
not all about stopping Courtney Paris," McCallie said. "There are
some advantages that she has that you're not going to stop. But if
you can do a better job on other people, then that might be better.
"She's going to get points. She's going to get rebounds."