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Michigan State women beaten by No. 9 Miami, 76-60

Michigan State's Porsche Poole, left, puts up a shot against Miami's Sylvia Bullock (34) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in East Lansing, Mich. Miami won 76-60. Michigan State's Porsche Poole, left, puts up a shot against Miami's Sylvia Bullock (34) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in East Lansing, Mich. Miami won 76-60. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
December 2, 2011
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EAST LANSING, Mich.—Suzy Merchant knew it would take an exceptional game for her Michigan State Spartans to beat ninth-ranked Miami. She just didn't know that two of her top players would be on the bench with two fouls most of the first half.

Morgan Stroman scored 20 points on a near-perfect shooting night and faster Hurricanes beat the Spartans 76-60 Thursday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

"I'm not surprised," Merchant said. "We knew what they were going to do. We practiced against six and seven guys on our scout team. But from 1 to 5, that's the fastest, most athletic team we've faced in my career. We've played Duke, and it's not even close."

Porsche Poole had 17 points for the foul-plagued Spartans (5-3), who trailed 38-26 at halftime with starters Lykendra Johnson and Taylor Alton sitting on the bench for much of the first 20 minutes.

"I get frustrated talking to Lykendra about that at this stage of her career," Merchant said of the Big Ten's leading rebounder. "She has to learn not to let her frustrations carry over. But those are our two seniors. They need to play at a higher level."

Courtney Schiffauer and Jasmine Hines each had nine points for Michigan State, while Becca Mills grabbed nine rebounds, all in the first half.

Stroman had 13 points at the break, hitting all four of her shots from the field and all five at the line for Miami (6-1). She finished 7-for-7 and 6-for-7, respectively.

"Coach has been telling me we need more energy," Stroman said. "When I'm hyped, everyone else is hyped, too."

Shenise Johnson added 13 points and Stefanie Yderstrom had 11 in the Hurricanes' second-closest game this season.

"Morgan is so underrated," Miami coach Katie Meier said. "Our junior class has some perfect student-athletes. And she can stay in the shadows, then say, `I'm a McDonald's All-American, too.'"

The Hurricanes forced the Spartans into 19 turnovers and had 11 steals. That was more than enough when Michigan State shot just 3 for 16 on 3-pointers.

Miami shot 45 percent from the field, 30 percent on 3s (6 for 20) and 75 percent (12 for 16) on free throws. They had 15 assists and just 10 turnovers while running at every opportunity.

"To only have 10 turnovers the way we play was big," Meier said. "We average 95 possessions a game, so that means we're keeping 85 of them."

The Spartans shot 42 percent from the field and 78 percent (7 for 9) at the line, and had a 37-34 edge in rebounds.

Miami point guard Riquna Williams went down with a left knee injury and was helped off the court with 1:16 left before halftime. She returned briefly in the second half and finished with nine points.

The Hurricanes built a 36-20 edge with pressure defense, drives to the basket and a steady procession to the foul line. The Spartans had 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, when they were outscored 11-3 at the line.

"We've got to be smarter than that," Poole said. "We've got to stay out of foul trouble. We were better with the ball in the second half and didn't give up turnovers for touchdowns. But we have to start faster."

With Johnson and Alton back in the lineup, Michigan State pulled to 46-36 on an off-balance jumper by Poole and made it an eight-point game on a layup by Alton.

Miami kept the Spartans at bay with five of their six 3-pointers in the second half, two from deep in the right corner and one from up top by Yderstrom.

But Michigan State rallied again behind Schiffauer's aggression and Hines' strength inside. Annalise Pickrel's jumper with 6:14 to go pulled the Spartans to 59-52 with 6:14 left.

"We cut it to seven but just didn't make a couple of plays when we needed to," Merchant said. "I liked our fight in the second half and the way we competed. We just couldn't get over the hump."

Stroman finally missed a free throw but made her second attempt, then converted a layup on a pass from Shenise Johnson to make it a 10-point game. On the Hurricanes' next possession, Yderstrom connected again from 21 feet to make it 65-52.

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