12:00 PM ET, January 7, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State and Rutgers, two nationally prominent programs, had never met before Saturday. They expect to play again -- only at higher stakes.This time, Michigan State was the winner.The Spartans (12-3) got 22 points from Lindsay Bowen in a 73-71 victory over the No. 8 Scarlet Knights (10-2). Rutgers' Essence Carson missed a jumper from near the foul line as time expired, extending Michigan State's school-record homecourt winning streak to 22 games.The Spartans (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) beat a top 10 team for the first time this season after losing their first three opportunities."It will show our young players what it's like in March," Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "It's not March yet. But it felt like March."Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer was upset with her team's execution, especially late in the game. Cappie Pondexter, one of the nation's best players, fouled out late in the game after scoring 24 points. And Rutgers repeatedly fouled Bowen, a good free-throw shooter, with the game on the line."When we see Michigan State again, and I trust that we will, we will remember this," Stringer said. "To win against good teams, we've got to learn what to do."Liz Shimek scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Michigan State. Victoria Lucas-Perry had 15 points. Carson had 17 points for Rutgers. Matee Ajavon added 15 points off the bench.Michigan State used clutch foul shooting to hold off a second-half charge from the Scarlet Knights. Bowen made 12 of 14 free throws, including 4-of-6 late in the game.Bowen hit three free throws to put Michigan State up 65-62 with 4:02 remaining."I like to have the ball in my hands in those situations," Bowen said. "I know I've got to convert."Bowen on Saturday became the fourth player in Michigan State history to reach 1,500 points.Michigan State enjoyed a huge advantage from the line, making 30-of-34 attempts. Rutgers was 7-of-11.Stringer did not make an issue of the disparity. She said the Scarlet Knights need to move better and make smarter decisions. She took responsibility for the confusion as time ran down."We could have won this," Stringer said. "We had some miscues."