Sunday, April 3, 2005 Updated: April 4, 7:35 PM ET
Haynie steal highlights dramatic finish
INDIANAPOLIS -- Michigan State tied the Final Four record for biggest comeback when it fought a 16-point deficit to top Tennessee 68-64 on Sunday at the RCA Dome. So how'd the Spartans pull it off? ESPN.com's experts break down the national semifinal.
ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel
It's astonishing that Tennessee would win the battle on the boards as convincingly as it did, but not win this game. However, this was a testament to the incredible team play that Michigan State has displayed all season long to get this far. And the way that coach Joanne P. McCallie seems to always push the right buttons with this team.
Michigan State point guard Kristin Haynie struggled offensively, but when it came time to make the big play, she was the one who made it. And starting sophomore guard Victoria Lucas-Perry had one of the best offensive games she has had this season.
The other factor in this game: Kelli Roehrig and Liz Shimek did not get discouraged going against Tennessee's post players. Both made key baskets in the last three minutes, including Shimek's tough, left-handed shot in the lane, and Roehrig's layup and rebound that clinched the win after a wide-open miss just minutes earlier.
ESPN's Beth Mowins
I'm in complete shock. I've never seen a Pat Summitt-coached team collapse like that. But what a job by Michigan State to turn it around. The key for the Spartans was when they came out of the timeout, down by 16 points with about 15 minutes to play. You knew they had to change something to get themselves running and going, and they started to show fullcourt pressure.
That energized the Spartans and helped turn the game around. Tennessee still had chances, and good looks at the basket, but the Lady Vols couldn't knock them down. Their seniors didn't come through for them tonight. And just like LSU against Baylor, the team that didn't have experience on its side ended up making the better decisions down the stretch.
Michigan State point guard Kristin Haynie did a great job executing the offense. She didn't score a lot, but she got some rebounds and made sure the ball was in the hands of the right people. Her steal with one minute left was probably the play of the game. Haynie's ensuing layup gave Michigan State its first lead of the second half, 64-62. Up until that point the Spartans had just been playing to get back into it, but that was when Michigan State realized, "We're really going to win this thing."
ESPN's Ann Meyers
Tennessee dominated, was relentless on the offensive glass with 19 rebounds and outscored Michigan State 40-28 in the paint and 19-8 on second-chance points. But the Lady Vols turned the ball over way too many times, committing 18 turnovers.
But even though it was outplayed most of the game, Michigan State never lost hope. This is a team that doesn't go away. The Spartans won three overtime games this year, beat Minnesota three times, beat No. 1-ranked Stanford, beat Connecticut -- and had the Huskies down by 21 points -- and have been in big games this year. They believe in themselves and know it's anybody's game. They have played all kinds of different teams, faced every defense and know to never give up. And a lot of that comes from coach Joanne P. McCallie's desire to leave it all on the floor.
Liz Shimek was strong all game, and kept Tennessee's Shyra Ely busy. Lindsay Bowen was instrumental late in the game, hitting some key 3-pointers down the stretch, and Kelli Roehrig started hitting some shots in the final minutes, too. Kristin Haynie's steal was critical, and for as much as she struggled offensively (2-for-7 from field, four points), she kept everybody else involved and never got frustrated.
For Tennessee, Ely disappeared in the second half. She faced up, but Michigan State pushed her out and prevented Ely from getting deep in the lane.