Michigan women's baskeball snaps 12-game losing streak to Michigan State with 70-69 win
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
Updated at 3:30 p.m.
There’s been no shortage of streaks stopped and records broken for this Michigan women’s basketball senior class.
The team got off to its best start in program history this year, was ranked for the first time in a decade. Sunday, it won at Purdue for the first time in 15 years.
Saturday at the Crisler Center, the team added one more accomplishment to that list: beating Michigan State. And the result had senior guard Jenny Ryan standing alone with her hands raised near the block “M” moments after the game ended.
“I just think it was kind of a culmination of four years, a lot of feelings and emotion coming out,” Ryan said. “It was one of the goals that our senior class had. It was a sense of relief and a ‘Finally’ moment.”
Michigan went on a run midway through the second half and held on late to top Michigan State, 70-69, snapping a 12-game losing streak to the Spartans that stretched back five years. The game marked just Michigan’s second win over MSU in their last 22 meetings.
“It’s great to break the streak, and if anyone deserves to do it it’s our senior class because of what they’ve been able to accomplish since they stepped on campus,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said.
The win came six days after Michigan beat No. 13 Purdue on the road, its first win in West Lafayette since 1998.
Ryan, the senior guard from Saginaw Nouvel, finished with a career-high 24 points. That included 14 in the second half, plus five assists, four steals and no turnovers.
“She played pretty much the entire game and didn’t have a turnover,” Barnes Arico said. “She was under pressure for 39 minutes, so I thought that was pretty incredible.”
Senior forward Kate Thompson also scored 20, including four 3-pointers, after scoring 22 points Sunday at Purdue.
After a back-and-forth game through the early minutes of the second half, Michigan went on a 10-2 run in a three-minute stretch midway through the half and never trailed agin.
Ryan scored eight of those points. The run started with an and-one from Ryan, and ended with a steal and a bucket followed by a 3 that put Michigan up six.
“I just think it just gave us confidence that we belong here, we can do it, we can score with them, we can make stops,” Ryan said of the streak.
The Wolverines led by as many as nine, before Michigan State fought back and the the deficit to one on a 3-pointer with two minutes left, and again on a Becca Mills free throw with 1:02 left.
But Wolverines forward Nya Jordan scored on Michigan’s next possession, and Ryan scored two free throws with 17 seconds left to put the Wolverines up by five.
The finish capped the Wolverines’ third straight win, following a four losses in five games stretch, in a game that started and ended well for Michigan.
Coming out of a timeout early in the first half, Michigan scored on four straight possessions -- two Thompson 3’s, plus a Ryan bucket and two Ryan free throws. The run gave Michigan led 17-8 with 12:26 left in the first half.
“When (Thompson) got it going, now all of a sudden it’s like everybody has confidence,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. “That’s what we tried to warn the kids about.”
Thompson, who set Michigan’s single-season 3-pointer record Sunday at Purdue, hit her first four shots, including three 3-pointers. One of those, with 14:20 left, came from on the center-court logo with a hand in her face as the shot clock expired.
“I actually told Kate when we were walking up here that some plays happen throughout a game when you know it’s going to be an OK day, and that was the play,” Ryan said. “So when she hit that I laughed at her and I smiled.”
After a MSU run, the Wolverines went into halftime down by four, but after quick buckets on their first two possessions of the second half were able to tie the game at 32.
In the days leading up to Saturday’s game, Barnes Arico tried to downplay the Michigan State matchup and the losing streak that went along with it.
But afterward, everyone could admit that breaking the streak was something that mattered plenty.
“We tried for the last couple of days not to make it about Michigan State, because I think our seniors kind of have a block in their head when you say Michigan State,” Barnes Arico said. “So we tried to make it about us and just about Michigan and about what we do.
“You could tell down the end, they were doing things that they don’t normally do because they had a refuse to lose attitude.”