for this game

Bowling Green-Michigan St. Preview

Mar 19, 2010 - 3:18 PM By BRETT HUSTON STATS Writer

Bowling Green (27-6) at Michigan State (22-9), 12:11 p.m. EDT

Even with Allyssa DeHaan's exceptional performance, Michigan State fell one point short of the regional finals in last year's NCAA tournament.

The 24th-ranked Spartans are hoping the tallest player in school history can carry them a little bit deeper this time.

Back spasms slowed DeHaan as Michigan State was bounced from the Big Ten tournament, but the senior center should be ready to go as the fifth-seeded Spartans look to begin a deep NCAA run with a first-round matchup against No. 12 seed Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon in Louisville.

Michigan State (22-9) looked like it was going to be one of eight teams left standing in the NCAA tournament on March 28, 2009, when it led Iowa State 68-61 with 1:26 left in the Berkeley Regional semifinals.

The Cyclones ended on an 8-0 run, however, to deal the ninth-seeded Spartans a crushing 69-68 loss. DeHaan had 24 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, but didn't get a touch on the last possession and walked off the court with tears in her eyes.

"That's how it goes sometimes. It was unfortunate," the 6-foot-9 center said. "The game shouldn't just be decided on that last play."

DeHaan is the leading scorer (10.9 points per game) for a team that finished second in the Big Ten regular season standings, but the Spartans fell 59-54 to third-seeded Iowa in the conference tournament semifinals March 6.

She was hardly herself in Indianapolis. Suffering through back spasms, DeHaan had two points in just eight minutes of a quarterfinal win over Michigan, then scored two points in 20 minutes of the loss to the Hawkeyes.

After having two weeks to rest and recover, DeHaan says she's ready to face Bowling Green (27-6).

"I'll be ready for game time," said DeHaan, who enters the tournament four blocks shy of the all-time record held by Saint Mary's junior Louella Thompson (506). "It's my last go at the NCAA tournament, and it's my senior year, so I'll be ready."

Michigan State has a recent history against the Falcons, who are making their first NCAA appearance since a surprising run to the regional semifinals as a No. 7 seed.

Bowling Green faced the Spartans in East Lansing in the first round of the 2008 NIT, losing 74-66. Kalisha Keane led Michigan State with 20 points, while DeHaan added 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

Lauren Prochaska had 24 points for the Falcons in the final game of her freshman year, and two years later she's the second-leading scorer in the Mid-American Conference (17.9 ppg) and the league's player of the year.

She poured in a season-high 29 points - 12 in the final nine minutes - last Saturday as Bowling Green beat Toledo 62-53 for its 10th MAC tournament title.

"I told her, 'Get us to the finish line,'" Falcons coach Curt Miller said. "She's a once-in-a-lifetime player."

Bowling Green is 10th in the nation in 3-point percentage (38.4) and will likely need another big effort from Prochaska and her teammates on the perimeter. Inside, the Falcons' tallest players are 6-foot-1 Jen Uhl and 5-foot-11 center Tara Breske.

The winner will face either fourth-seeded Kentucky or 13th seeded Liberty on Monday night.