Michigan State pulls away for third place

LAHAINA, Maui - With star guard Kalin Lucas out trying to recover from a banged-up knee, Michigan State turned to a player - Durrell Summers - who was 1-for-9 before making two huge three-pointers to propel the No. 2 Spartans to a 76-71 win over No. 11 Washington for third place in the EA Sports Maui Invitational Wednesday at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Washington finished the tournament in fourth place with a record of 1-2. They beat Virginia in the first round, but lost a battle with No. 9 Kentucky to set up their final game with Michigan State. And just like Tuesday, the Spartans were more than happy to go toe-to-toe with the Huskies, proving to be every bit the physical and athletic matchup you would expect from the second-best team in the country.

"They run their offense with much precision, and they run a number of sets," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They did a really good job. We're obviously very, very disappointed. We had a lot of high hopes coming into the tournament, but we ended up 1-2. This was a great tournament to participate in."

"It was a strange game to me," added Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo. "We thought Washington was the best team in the tournament. They check like the old Purdue teams and we didn't handle it early. In the second half we competed better.

"We thought it was going to be a character game. We did show some character. It wasn't easy. There's about three teams here that are as good as any we'll face this year, maybe besides Duke. Washington is one of those."

At the 2:42 mark of the second half and the Huskies up by two, Lucas - who had scored 27 points up till then - had to come out of the game with a knee injury suffered during a mad scramble for the basketball. Izzo called on Summers, the senior from Detroit, he came up huge in Lucas' absence despite shooting 1-9 up to that point.

"He's a good shooter, and you can't leave him," Romar said of Summers. "You can't make a mistake on a guy like that."

He hit two three-pointers in a row in front of the MSU bench, the second coming with 1:13 left to put the Spartans up four, 72-68. "We thought it was the easiest one where we could get a shot off," Izzo said of Summers' late-game heroics. "I'm happy for Durrell, that was a big shot. I was disappointed in Durrell; I didn't think he played very well. But the difference from last year is that he's working his tail off. I found it easier to go to him because of the work that he's put in. In some ways, maybe it was a gigantic step for him and I."

The Huskies weren't done, though. After an Isaiah Thomas layup, Washington had a chance to tie the game with 13 seconds remaining. Romar called on his center - Matthew Bryan-Amaning - to come up with a play to tie the game.

"We wanted to set him up to get an isolation drive," Romar said of the play call. "We got what we wanted."

Bryan-Amaning drove to the basket and was fouled by MSU's Draymond Green. He hit the first foul shot, but the second was left all the way, and the Spartans' Delvon Roe secured the ball for Michigan State.

The Spartans hit four-straight free throws to seal the win, including the last two by Lucas, who came back into the game.

"We can play defense and hold our own with anybody," Romar said. "It was good to see some people step up. We improved drastically from yesterday to today with our patience. I think our guys learned that lesson. It would have been great if we had played a little better."

Washington grabbed a ten-point lead at the break, led by Thomas, Holiday and Gant, who scored 26 of the team's 44 first-half points. They forced Michigan State into 14 first-half turnovers.

"We have to play the same way every opponent we play against," Gant said. "If we focus on the little things, we should be fine."

"They were keying on everybody," Izzo said. "That's a Gene Keady-coached defense right there. (Romar's) team sure did play hard and physical."

But Michigan State whittled down their lead using another unsung hero - sophomore center Garrick Sherman. He scored the Spartans' first six points of the second quarter, and they took the lead on a Lucas three-pointer with 14:13 left. From that point on, neither team had a lead larger than four until Lucas' final two free throws of the game.

"Sherm actually asked for the ball," Izzo said of Sherman. "He did. I think it could be a big builder for Sherm, because he looked comfortable and confident. When role players step up, you really have to appreciate it."

"We knew when we came out, it would be a dog fight," Green said of the Huskies. "They are an even better team than I thought they were. This was a very important game for the rest of our season."
Points: Bryan-Amaning 15, Thomas 13, Holiday 12, Gant 9, Gaddy 8, Overton 3, N'Diaye 3, Wilcox 3, Ross 3, Suggs 2
Rebounds: Bryan-Amaning 6, N'Diaye 5, TEAM 5, Thomas 4, Holiday 3, Ross 2, Suggs 1, Wilcox 1
Assists: Thomas 6, Overton 2, Bryan-Amaning 1, Gaddy 1, Holiday 1, Suggs 1, Ross 1
Blocks: N'Diaye 1, Wilcox 1
Steals: Bryan-Amaning 2, Overton 2, Gaddy 1, Holiday 1, N'Diaye 1

Dawgman.com Top Stories