8:00 PM ET, February 9, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Aisha Jefferson followed orders Thursday, and her Michigan State teammates followed that lead.Asked to score more often, Jefferson had a career-high 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals to help the Spartans (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) build a 31-point, first-half cushion and beat Minnesota (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) 84-61."She's extraordinary," Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said of freshman Jefferson. "She listens. You tell Aisha to rebound, and she goes and rebounds. You tell her she's also a scorer, and she goes and scores. She has the biggest heart that you ever saw. And she cares more than anybody about being a Spartan."Jefferson had plenty of help. Rene Haynes had a season-high 18 points and Victoria Lucas-Perry 14 for the Spartans (18-7, 8-4 Big Ten), who grabbed a quick 13-0 lead and dominated the first 27 minutes en route to their fourth straight win."We just had to keep attacking," Jefferson said. "We were very upset about our loss at Minnesota and really had something to prove tonight. But the whole game seems a lot slower when you have everyone on your side and the momentum going your way."Michigan State seized that momentum with a near-perfect first half. It shot 61 percent from the field, 80 percent from 3-point range, and forced 16 turnovers to lead 57-27 at the break. That matched the Spartans' point total in a win at Illinois on Sunday."When you score that much, all your shots are falling," Lucas-Perry said after hitting every try, including four 3-pointers from the corner, in the first half. "But we really brought it at the defensive end. Rene was great in forcing turnovers. Aisha was a beast on the boards. And our pride showed tonight. We wanted to send a message that this is where we're going and to watch out."Shannon Schonrock had four 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 12 points for the Golden Gophers (17-5, 9-2), whose only other conference loss was to Purdue in overtime on Jan. 12."Five of our first six possessions were turnovers," Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. "We dug ourselves a hole very, very quickly. It was 10-0 before you knew it. But any time you turn it over 24 times and give up 18 offensive rebounds, it's going to be tough to win on another team's floor."Michigan State didn't need much offense from senior stars Lindsay Bowen and Liz Shimek. The No. 2 and 3 scorers in school history had just nine and seven points, respectively.It was the Spartans' 25th win in their past 26 games at home. It was also their highest point total since an 84-61 win against Western Carolina on Nov. 20, their second game of the season.A 44-26 edge on the boards and 15 steals gave Michigan State extra chances it didn't waste."As well as we shot in the first half, we won this game on defense more than on offense," Haynes said. "We rebounded more than half our misses and had great energy tonight. But we can do anything, especially when Aisha is ready to play."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||21-53 (.396)||30-61 (.492)|
|3P Made-Attempted||9-22 (.409)||9-16 (.563)|
|FT Made-Attempted||10-15 (.667)||15-22 (.682)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||21 (0/0)||13 (0/0)|