ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kalisha Keane scored 26 points and Michigan State (No. 25 AP) used some suffocating second-half defense to beat Richmond 76-52 Saturday in the University of Central Florida Thanksgiving Classic.
Brittney Thomas added nine points and Courtney Schiffauer had eight for the Spartans, who improved to 4-1 after outscoring the Spiders 37-21 in the second half.Brittani Shells led Richmond (4-3) with 16 points. The Spiders played even with the Spartans for the first 16 minutes of the game, but couldn't maintain the pace."We expected Richmond to come out with a lot of fire and intensity," Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. "Fortunately, we had Kalisha there to match it, and then the rest of the team picked things up defensively to help us pull away."Michigan State opened the second half with 11 straight points to take a 50-31 lead with 15:27 left. Shells finally ended Richmond's drought with a fallaway 8-footer with 14:38 to play that made it 50-33, but the Spiders never got closer than 14 the rest of the game.Keane scored 22 points in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers and going 9 of 12 from the field. The Spartans needed all of her offense to break away from a Richmond team that harassed Michigan State all over the court.The Spiders led 25-23 after a layup by Shells with 5:20 left in the half, but Michigan State finished the half with a 16-6 run to lead 39-31 at halftime."That run at the end of the half was really when our defense perked up," Merchant said. "The girls started getting in the gaps, taking away passing lanes and that helped us create some turnovers that led to easy baskets."