A season-high audience of 9,831 watched Michigan State (22-3 overall, 11-2 Big Ten) lead from start to finish and win for the sixth consecutive game. The Spartans, whose average margin of victory in that span is 24.7 points, remained tied with No. 25 Penn State for second place in the conference standings, a half-game behind No. 2 Ohio State.
MSU sophomore guard Victoria Lucas-Perry scored all 17 of her points in the first half and junior guard Lindsay Bowen contributed 12 of her team-high 18 points in the second half to lead four Spartans in double figures.
"We have a lot of different weapons," MSU coach Joanne McCallie said. "Our balance is one of our strengths."
"I believe I said after the Minnesota game: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you get beat," UW coach Lisa Stone said. "And [Michigan State] beat us. That's a good basketball team that we played today."
Wisconsin (10-12, 4-8) trailed by double figures for the final 24 minutes and 28 seconds of the game. The Badgers, though, closed to within 52-41 with 13:28 left to play after making 7 of 9 shots in a 15-9 run early in the second half.
Bowen, however, answered with a pair of 3-pointers to jumpstart a 14-0 Spartan run, turning an 11-point edge into a 66-41 blowout with nine minutes left in the game.
"Lindsay Bowen goes on a 6-0 run herself," UW senior guard Stephanie Rich said. "That was the dagger I thought. We started to make that push, Lindsay knocks down those tough shots."
MSU senior guard Kristin Haynie led the Spartans' run with three assists, two steals and two points. She set up each of Bowen's triples and capped the spurt with a steal and a pair of free throws after she was fouled on a transition layup attempt.
Haynie finished with eight points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals, giving her 1,056 points, 525 rebounds, 505 assists and 307 steals for her career. In the process, she became only the fourth player in Big Ten history to join the 1,000-500-500-300 club.
"She scores when she has to, gets the ball to other people and she's a terrific defender. She picked us clean a couple times today," Stone said.
Wisconsin struggled to defend the Spartans' versatile attack and settled for jump shots offensively, making just 3 of 20 3-point attempts. The Badgers' 15 percent 3-point shooting was its second-lowest mark of the season; they shot 13 percent (2 of 15) at Michigan State Jan. 13.
UW also set a season low with just five free-throw attempts and a season high with 77 field-goal attempts, converting on just 26 (34 percent) as MSU's full court press forced a frenetic pace.
"They play that match-up zone but it really does feel like a [man-to-man]," Rich said. "They are just all over the place….it's not like it was a bad shooting night. It's just Michigan State plays great defense."
The Spartans shot 49 percent, including 47 percent (9 of 19) on 3-point attempts, consistently losing Badger defenders through a myriad of screens and switches off double teams.
The Badgers were strong defensively in one respect. In the first half, they flustered Spartan senior center Kelli Roehrig with persistent double teams, at times when she did not have the ball. Roehrig was called for two fouls in a 33-second span and sat out the final 12:55 of the first half, having contributed zero points and two turnovers in five minutes.
The Spartans, though, went on a 10-2 run after Roehrig's departure. Lucas-Perry knocked down a 3-pointer and added a pair of free throws to cap the run, making it 26-14 MSU with 10:31 left in the first half.
Lucas-Perry's second 3 of the first half gave the Spartans a double digit lead for good at 34-22, and came as part of an 11-2 run that made it 41-24 MSU with 2:05 left. After Anderson scored to make it 41-26, Lucas-Perry shot faked at the 3-point arc and blew down the right side of the lane for a layup that gave MSU a 43-26 lead at halftime.
Lucas-Perry also scored five points in a 7-0 run that gave MSU a 16-7 lead 4:06 into the game.
"Lucas-Perry had her way with us in the first half," Stone said.
Anderson receives high praise
Freshman guard Jolene Anderson made just 9 of 22 field goals but was again clearly Wisconsin's most assertive and effective offensive option. After the game McCallie called her the obvious choice for Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.
"She's just had a great season," McCallie said. "She's a very good player. She does a lot of things well. I'm sure Wisconsin fans are very excited to watch her career. Best freshman in the conference. She'll win it unanimously."
Anderson's team-best 18.0 points per game leads all Big Ten freshman and is fourth in the conference overall.
Notable: Junior forward Annie Nelson left the game early in the second half with what appeared to be a sprained ankle, but returned and managed to play 11 minutes in the second half. She finished with six points and a team-high eight rebounds in 28 minutes… Junior guard Ashley Josephson scored seven points but had six turnovers in 22 minutes off the bench, marking the third consecutive game she has played at least 20 minutes… The 1,000-500-500-300 club Haynie joined Sunday also includes former UW star Tamara Moore.