7:00 PM ET, March 21, 2005
Williams Arena, Minneapolis, MN
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With quick hands and a sure shot, Rene Haynes spared top-seeded Michigan State the embarrassment -- and disappointment -- of an early exit from the NCAA Tournament.Haynes came up with the ball in a wild scramble and made a layup with 2.9 seconds left, giving Michigan State a 61-59 victory over eighth-seeded Southern California in a second-round game Monday night."I saw every one of my teammates just going all out," Haynes said. "They all hit the ground for the ball. Everybody wanted it. We came up with it because of heart and determination. It was all heart."Hearts were pounding on the Michigan State side because it was a scary game for the Spartans (30-3), who were outhustled and outrebounded by their young, scrappy opponent. But they survived to reach the round of 16 for the first time and will take a 14-game winning streak into the semifinals of the Kansas City Regional on Sunday.The Spartans have some work to do before then, however, and coach Joanne P. McCallie let them know about. Reporters standing outside the locker room could hear her chewing out her players and she emerged with a stern expression as she headed for the interview room, where she used terms like "ridiculous" to describe her team's paltry seven offensive rebounds and "far too many" for the 18 turnovers."Our team in the last two or three minutes showed tremendous mental toughness," McCallie said. "They've had that all year. My concern is that they rely on that and get themselves into a situation like they got themselves into tonight."Lindsay Bowen led Michigan State with 19 points, including four huge 3-pointers in the second half. Her final 3 gave the Spartans a 59-56 lead with 37.3 seconds to play, but USC (20-11) tied it on freshman Brynn Cameron's long 3 with 21.7 seconds remaining.The Spartans then got the ball inside to Kelli Rohering, but Jamie Funn blocked the shot and grabbed the ball, only to have it stripped by Michigan State's Liz Shimek. Players from both teams dove all over the floor trying to get the ball before Haynes finally came up with it to the left of the lane. The 5-foot-10 sophomore took a step and made the basket.USC gave the ball right back to Michigan State when Eshaya Murphy stepped on the end line inbounding the ball. Murphy then tipped away the Spartans' inbounds pass, but USC couldn't get a shot before the buzzer and Michigan State moved on, despite a five-minute scoring drought in the second half."At the end, we out-toughed them, but the whole game we didn't outplay them," Roehrig said. "We need to get tougher on the boxouts. That's all there is to it. No one should outrebound us."USC got a big game from freshman Camille LeNoir, who scored nine quick points at the start of the second half to erase Michigan State's 29-25 halftime lead and finished with a career-high 18. Kim Gipson added 14 for the Women of Troy, who outrebounded Michigan State 36-31, and Murphy scored 12."We were all over the place and we deserved to win that game, to be honest with you," first-year USC coach Mark Trakh said.Shimek scored 14 for Michigan State, which couldn't hold a six-point lead midway through the second half, and Kristin Haynie added 12 points, seven assists and three steals.USC had support from many of the Minnesota fans who arrived early for the night's second game between the Gophers and Virginia. What the Women of Troy needed, however, those fans couldn't provide -- just one more basket.Still, the season was a positive step in Trakh's effort to return the program to national prominence. USC made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997 and won 20 games for the first time since that season.And the Women of Troy went out knowing they took one of the nation's top programs to the final buzzer. They frustrated Michigan State with a zone defense, got in the passing lanes, matched the Spartans' physical play and consistently beat them to the ball."I think we're building our program," Trakh said. "We think that this is going to be a building block. I'm really excited. I think that we can build a power."Miichigan State went scoreless for more than five minutes after taking a 46-40 lead and USC rallied with seven straight points. It was back and forth the rest of the way.Bowen's 3 from the right wing tied it at 54, but LeNoir hit a jumper over the 6-4 Roehrig to put USC up 56-54. Another Bowen basket, a jumper from right side, tied it again and she followed with her last 3, making it 59-56 and setting up the frantic finish."It should never have come down to that," Shimek said. "It was a tough shot by Rene, but it never should have come down to that. We played smart basketball for about one minute and that wasn't enough."
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