Spartans' Run Ends in WNIT Final

After a strong run in the WNIT Tournament, the Spartans' streak ended against the productive Golden Eagles. Things are looking up for next season, however: The team loses only two seniors, a star is returning, and some freshmen appear to be ready to take strides.

The thrill-ride is over. The Michigan State women's basketball team fell to Marquette 81-66 in the WNIT Championship game at the Breslin Center.

The Spartans did, however, see a glimpse of things to come in freshman forward Kalisha Keane, who led all scorers with a career-high 24 points and led the team with 8 rebounds.

After the game, MSU coach Suzy Merchant said her team had problems with both aspects of the game: "Our best defensive team really couldn't get a stop, and our best offensive team couldn't put it in the basket."

For the Golden Eagles, four players scored in double digits, led by Angel Robinson with 16. But it was Krystal Ellis who did much of the damage. She scored 15, dished 11 assists, hit a 3-pointer, and went 4-4 from the charity stripe.

"I thought she was one of the best guards we've faced all year," Merchant said.

Another Spartan freshman, guard Brittany Thomas, had a solid all-around game with a balanced line of 7 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan and junior guard Mia Johnson each scored 11.

Dehaan scored 9 of her points in free throws, hitting all but one. She also led the team with 5 blocks and added 4 rebounds.

Despite the disappointment of not getting into the big dance and losing in their final game, Merchant said her team should build on their success.

"I still feel that we had the resume to go somewhere else," she said, "but I thought we did a great job of making the most of it in this postseason. … I think we can take away a lot of positives from this night."

More will be expected of the Spartans next season, in Merchant's second year at the helm. The team loses only two seniors, Courtney Davidson and Alisa Wulff.

Talented junior forward Aisha Jefferson should return after missing the entire season with a knee injury.

And freshman like Keane and Thomas gave glimpses of things to come in the WNIT final. Plus, Lykendra Johnson, another highly regarded freshman who was academically ineligible this season, should return to the floor as well.

Next year, it's the field of 64 or bust.

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