EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Leigha Brown scored 19 of her 29 points in the second half and finished two assists shy of a triple-double to lead No. 18 Michigan to a 77-67 win over rival Michigan State on Sunday.
Brown scored 10 in the fourth quarter, eight from the foul line, and Maddie Nolan had two big 3-pointers in the fourth and scored 22 points for the Wolverines (19-5, 9-4 Big Ten Conference).
Michigan pulled out a second-straight win without leading scored Laila Phelia, who has a lower leg injury. Brown was 8 of 9 and Nolan 5 of 6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Matilda Ekh and Moira Joiner both had 12 for the Spartans (11-12, 3-9), who lost their third straight since coach Susy Merchant had a medical issue and a minor car accident on Jan. 28. Dean Lockwood is the interim head coach. DeeDee Hagemann added 11 points and a season-high nine assists.
Michigan State, which lost the first meeting 70-55 and has 10 losses by 10 points or less, went 5 of 23 from the field and 1 of 3 from the line in the fourth quarter.
Nolan sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around four Brown free throws to open the fourth quarter as the Wolverines surged to a 66-55 lead. Nolan finished with five triples. Brown had 12 rebounds and eight assists.
The Spartans scored the first 10 points of the game but Nolan scored Michigan’s last eight with a pair of 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 21-15 after one quarter. Brown scored eight-straight Wolverine points, tying the game at 31-all three minutes before halftime but the Spartans’ last three buckets were 3s, with Julia Ayrault and Ekh connecting in the final two minutes for a 40-33 lead.
Brown and Kiser combined for 17 points in the third quarter when Michigan outscored the Spartans 23-15 to take a 56-55 lead into the fourth quarter. The Wolverines were 10 of 16, MSU just 5 of 17 but had a Hagemann 3 at the buzzer.
Michigan State shot 35% in the second half and 31% for the game.
Michigan doesn’t play until Nebraska visits on Sunday. Michigan State hits the road to play Wisconsin on Wednesday.