8:00 PM ET, December 28, 2009
MADISON, Wis. -- Despite playing and succeeding against a tough non-conference schedule, Michigan State fell to 0-2 in the Big Ten conference.Alyssa Karel scored 21 points to lead Wisconsin to a 62-54 upset win against No. 16 Michigan State on Monday night.The Spartans failed to overcome a sloppy first half in which they scored 21 points and had 16 turnovers. The 21 first-half points were a season low in a half for the Spartans.The Badgers (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten) forced 26 Spartans turnovers and Michigan State scored 19 points below its average and shot 47.7 percent (21-for-44) from the field.Merchant said the Spartans should have been able to persevere despite the 26 turnovers, especially considering the quality teams they've faced during the early season. Michigan State (9-4, 0-2) has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation and beat two of three opponents ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press Top 25 poll."I really felt like Wisconsin was very physical with us and that really bothered us," Merchant said. "They did a great job of really attacking the ball, whether it was on the block or on dribble drives."Even when we wanted to drive, we had a hard time just kicking the ball. I think you need to give credit to Wisconsin, they're very good defensively. They really had more effort than we did on the defensive end."Wisconsin's Anya Covington dribbled around 6-foot-9 Allysa De Haan and drained a jumper to cap a 7-4 run that gave Wisconsin a 26-17 lead with 2:19 left in the first half.One key play that showed the Badgers' poise came with less than 30 seconds left in the first half when guard Teah Gant swatted away a shot attempt by DeHaan.Karel had 11 points in the half to boost the Badgers to a 28-21 halftime lead.The Spartans strung together a 13-3 run over a five-minute stretch to stay in contention late in the game. The Spartans pulled within four points after Aisha Jefferson's layup with 1:41 remaining cut the Badgers' lead to 53-49.Jasmine Thomas scored MSU's final five points, but the Spartans failed to capitalize in the final 30 seconds. DeHaan, the Spartans' leading scorer, finished with nine points and sat on the bench over the final 8:38 of the game."We sputtered a little bit late but held on to win," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "Again, it was a tremendous defensive game for us."Rae Lin D'Alie had 13 points for Wisconsin, which has won three straight games and four of its last five against Michigan State."(The win) feels really good because these kids work very hard and it was a possession-by-possession game and one that we just had enough in our tank at the end," Stone said.Lykendra Johnson and Jasmine Thomas scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Spartans.Wisconsin held a 30-29 rebounding advantage against Michigan State and shot 43.5 percent (20-for-46) from the field in the victory. The Badgers shot 52.6 percent from the field (10-for-19) in the second half.