Feb. 17, 2005
By CHUCK SCHOFFNER
AP Sports Writer
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The chair fell off the platform and crashed to the floor as Joanne P. McCallie got up from her postgame interview.
“Another turnover,” the Michigan State coach said with a laugh.
McCallie had just seen her team turn it over 23 times, but the ninth-ranked Spartans survived, beating Iowa 67-60 Thursday night behind Liz Shimek’s 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“Certainly Liz Shimek’s game was unbelievable,” McCallie said. “She kept us in the game, drove us through the game and did what she does. She attacks all the time and it’s fun to watch.”
The other half of Michigan State’s inside duo, Kelli Roehrig, hit two key baskets during a late 12-2 run that wiped out Iowa’s only lead and gave the Spartans (23-3, 12-2 Big Ten) their seventh straight victory.
Now comes the showdown they’ve wanted for some time – a home game Sunday with No. 2 Ohio State, which leads the league at 12-1 after beating Minnesota on Thursday night.
“We’re hoping for a sellout at Breslin,” McCallie said.
Iowa (16-8, 5-8) played its second consecutive strong game against a Top 10 opponent but couldn’t stay with the Spartans down the stretch. The Hawkeyes lost to Ohio State 67-60 last Sunday.
“It’s the same story, just different team,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We had wonderful defense for 35 minutes of this game and we just let up in the last five minutes. For us to go in the second half and hold a team for 15 minutes to 19 points, and then to let them score 19 points in five minutes is ridiculous.”
Crystal Smith led Iowa with 19 points and Jamie Cavey scored 16, though Cavey shot just 5-for-15. She was a 57.7-percent shooter coming in.
“Those are shots I shoot all the time,” Cavey said. “I should have made them. That’s my fault.”
Roehrig was limited to 15 minutes because of foul trouble but still contributed 10 points for Michigan State, including six in the final 4:34. She fouled out with 47.8 seconds remaining.
Michigan State trailed for a total of 24 seconds during the first six games of its winning streak and was behind for just 19 seconds in this one. That happened when Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Iowa a 50-48 lead with 5:19 to play.
Bluder motioned with her arms to encourage the crowd, but the Spartans never panicked.
“We’ve been in so many different situations, we all just kept our cool and stayed together,” Shimek said. “That’s what we needed to do. It’s a lot of fun to play in that kind of environment. That’s what we need this time of year. It’s a lot of fun to fight through it and pull through it together.”
Shimek sank two free throws to tie it at 50 with 5 minutes remaining, and after Smith missed a jumper, Roehrig scored on a follow to put Michigan State back in the lead. Iowa then threw the ball away and the 6-foot-4 Roehrig beat the defense down the floor for a layup, making it 54-50.
“I was very proud of Kelli,” McCallie said. “I thought she was unfairly on the bench, let’s just put it that way. She responded with the 15 minutes that she had.”
The Spartans built their lead to 60-52 before Iowa made a final run, drawing to 62-58 on Smith’s two free throws with 47.8 seconds left. But Michigan State made five of six free throws to wrap it up.
Michigan State led 40-29 early in the second half before Iowa rallied, getting a 3-pointer from Tiffany Reedy and the two from Smith to take its brief lead.