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Nov. 27, 1997

Spartans Take Northwestern 88-77

The Michigan State women's basketball team has a pair of key Big Ten games on the schedule this weekend. The Spartans, who will play four of their next six games at home, will host Wisconsin on Friday, Jan. 31, at the Breslin Center (15,138). Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Following Friday's contest, MSU will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, for a game against Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 2. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m., EST, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500).

Michigan State is 15-3 overall and in first-place in the Big Ten with a 7-1 record. The Spartans extended their winning streak to six games with an 88-77 road win over Northwestern on Sunday, Jan. 26. Wisconsin, a winner of four-straight, is 14-3 overall and tied with Illinois for second-place in the Big Ten at 7-2. The Badgers were victorious twice last weekend with a, 77-72, road win over Michigan on Jan. 24, and an, 84-57, victory over Minnesota on Jan. 26. Iowa begins the week with an overall record of 9-8 and tied with Penn State for fifth-place in the Big Ten at 4-4. The Hawkeyes, who have lost three of their last five games, are coming off a 78-58 win over Indiana (Jan. 24) and a 75-63 loss to Michigan (Jan. 26).

The Spartans were ranked No. 24 in last week's USA Today/CNN Coaches Poll. MSU narrowly missed breaking into the Associated Press' Top 25 poll. MSU received 120 points in last week's media poll, five less than 24th-ranked Duke and four fewer than No. 25 DePaul. MSU's national ranking is just the second in program history and the first since 1991. The Spartans broke into the national rankings for the first time in history on Feb. 4, 1991, at No. 23 in the Associated Press' Coaches Poll. MSU had a 15-4 record at the time, but stayed in the national rankings for just one week after losing three-straight games. Wisconsin was No. 12 in last week's USA Today/CNN Coaches Poll and No. 16 in the AP Poll.

Michigan State closed out the first half of its Big Ten schedule with a 7-1 record. The Spartans only setback was a 90-81 road loss to Illinois. The Spartans, who stand alone atop the Big Ten standings for the first time in program history, have equalled their best eight-game conference beginning. MSU went 7-1 in 1990-91 and finished the season with a 13-5 Big Ten record, good for a second-place tie with Iowa.

MSU's game against Wisconsin will be carried live on WJIM (1240 AM), while Sunday's game at Iowa can be heard on WVFN Radio (730 AM). Larry Lage calls the action, while Sue Carter provides the analysis.

Michigan State head coach Karen Langeland (Calvin College, 1970) is in her 21st season in East Lansing. The dean of Big Ten Conference women's basketball coaches, Langeland has a 322-243 career and school record. Langeland has guided the Spartans to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1991 and 1996. Last season, MSU defeated Massachusetts, 60-57, before losing to Connecticut, 88-68, in the second round.

MSU holds a 22-12 advantage in its series with Wisconsin. The two teams split last season's season series with Wisconsin winning in Madison (82-59) and the Spartans pulling out a 76-65 victory in East Lansing. The Spartans, who have won six of the last eight games in the series, are 13-3 in games played in East Lansing. MSU's three home losses have been decided by an average of eight points or less. The Hawkeyes hold a commanding 22-8 lead in their series with Michigan State. Iowa won both contests last season, a 75-56 victory in Iowa City and a 71-65 win in East Lansing. Michigan State is just 3-11 in games played in Iowa City. The Spartans last victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena was a 62-55 win on Feb. 10, 1995. Prior to that victory, the Spartans had not picked up a win in Iowa City since Feb. 1, 1991 (64-54).

Since the Big Ten Tournament was introduced in 1995, each conference school plays a 16-game Big Ten schedule. Each school plays four teams just once during that 16-game schedule. This season, MSU will face Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa just once. The Spartans defeated Michigan (76-67) and Northwestern (88-77) in the first half of conference play. They face Wisconsin at Iowa this weekend, for the first and only time in the regular season.

The Badgers are led by senior point guard Keisha Anderson, who leads the Big Ten in scoring with a 20.5 points per game average...junior forward Ann Klapperich is the only other player averaging in double figures with a 17.9 points per game average...Klapperich tops Wisconsin's rebounding effort with a 6.5 boards per game average...the Badgers have one of the Big Ten's top offensive teams, averaging 78.1 points per game...Wisconsin's aggressive defensive play has them averaging a league-best 13.8 steals per game.

The Hawkeyes, who were the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten this season, have lost three of their last five games...Iowa is 10th in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 66.0 points per game, but is first in scoring defense, allowing just 60.41 points per game...junior guard Angela Hamblin leads Iowa with a 14.7 points per game average.

The Spartans canned 11 three-pointers and held one of the nation's top three-point shooting teams to just three triples in an 88-77 road win on Sunday, Jan. 26. Freshman guard Maxann Reese took advantage of her first career start, pumping in a career-high 28 points in the victory. Reese finished the game with an MSU-record eight three-pointers. MSU was up 36-15 midway through the first half when Northwestern went on a 15-0 run to cut the lead to 36-30 with 5:13 left in the half. Reese scored 11 points during a 17-2 run to put MSU back in front by 21 at 53-32 with 1:51 remaining before halftime. The Spartans went to the locker room with a 55-35 advantage. MSU would go ahead by as many as 25 points in the second half before Northwestern made a run. Megan Chawansky's layup cut the lead to 79-73 with 2:35 remaining in the game. But a three-point play and another easy basket by Paula Sanders kicked the lead back to 11 points (86-75) with less than a minute to play. Sanders ended the game with 16 points, while sophomore Nicole Cushing-Adkins added 14 points. Senior point guard Tamika Matlock added 13 points and a game-high 10 assists.

Freshman guard Maxann Reese turned in one of the best shooting performances in a half by a Spartan in Sunday's win at Northwestern. Reese, who started for an ill Jamie Wesley, scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, including a 6-of-7 performance from behind the arc in the first half. The Highland Park, native finished the game with a career-high 28 points in her first career start. Her eight three-pointers is an MSU record and is good for second-place on the Big Ten single-game chart. Reese, who has scored in double figures six times this season, is averaging 7.4 points per game this season. She has played in all 18 games and leads the team with 23 three-pointers. Reese is shooting 37 percent (23-of-61) from three-point range.

Sophomore Nicole Cushing-Adkins has been a main factor in MSU's success this season. The Spartan forward, who leads the Big Ten and is among the national leaders with a .595 field goal percentage, is averaging a team-high 13.5 points per game. Cushing-Adkins has scored 20 or more points in four games this season, including a career-high 26-point effort in MSU's 99-75 win over Penn State on Dec. 30. The Pinckney native also ranks among the Big Ten leaders in free throw percentage (.735), rebounds (6.2) and blocks per game (1.1). Cushing-Adkins scored 14 points, on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, in Sunday's win at Northwestern.

Senior forward Paula Sanders is in the midst of her finest season as a Spartan. The Detroit native is averaging a career-high 12.7 points per game and is four in the Big Ten with a 9.5 rebounds per contest average. Sanders has recorded six double-doubles this season and a total of 20 in her career. Sanders, who is one of five players in MSU history to record 700 or more rebounds, is fourth all-time with 744 boards. The Spartan tri-captain also stands among the league leaders in free throw percentage (.750) and steals per game (2.2). The Detroit native has garnered double-figure rebounds in eight contests this season and in a total of 30 games in her career. Sanders, who equaled her career high with 23 points against Illinois (Jan. 3), has scored 812 points and pulled down 744 rebounds in 95 games as a Spartan.

Career Rebound Leaders
1. Kris Emerson 933 1984-87
2. Jackie Carter 859 1980-83
3. Mary Kay Itnyre 821 1978-80
4. Paula Sanders 744 1994-SA
5. Kisha Kelley 701 1992-95
6. Jill Prudden 692 1975-78

MATLOCK SECOND IN THE NATION Senior Tamika Matlock leads the Big Ten and is second nationally with a 7.9 assists per game average. She has a stellar 2.2-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio. Her 142 total assists is tops in the country and is good for third-place on the MSU single-season chart. Matlock, who dished off an MSU single-game record 15 assists against California (12/21/96), has had double-figure assists five times this season and in a total of nine contests in her 47-game career. The Spartan tri-captain, who dished off 10 assists against Northwestern on Sunday, stands sixth on MSU's all-time chart with 316 assists. The Detroit native broke the Spartan seasonal record with 174 assists last year, her first with the Spartans. Matlock has also provided the Spartans with some offensive punch this season. She is averaging a career-high 8.3 points per game and has scored in double figures seven times. In the game with Michigan, Matlock scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field. Against Northwestern, she had 13 points to go along with her 10 assists for her third double-double of the season.

Matlock's Top Assist Performances

Opponent (Date) Assists
California (12/21/96) 15 *
UC-Irvine (12/20/96) 14
Penn State (12/30/96) 11
Indiana (2/25/96) 11
Michigan (2/18/96) 11
Yale (11/24/95) 11
Northwestern (1/26/96) 10
Texas (11/23/96) 10
Detroit (11/29/95) 10

* MSU single-game record

Junior guard Jamie Wesley missed Sunday's game with Northwestern because of the flu. Wesley had started MSU's previous 17 games this season. She has scored in double figures in the last five games, including a season-high 18 points against Purdue (Jan. 5). The Morrice native is one of three Spartans averaging in double figures with an 11.7 points per game average. She has scored in double figures 13 times this season and is second on the team with 14 three-pointers. Wesley is second on the team and is among the Big Ten leaders with a 2.1 steals per game average.

Strong bench play has been a key to MSU's success this season and three rookies are among the first players off the bench. Guard Maxann Reese leads the trio with a 7.4 points per game average. She has seen action in all 18 games and leads the team with 23 three-pointers. Rasmussen, an Okemos High graduate, is averaging 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. She leads the team with 23 blocked shots, good for seventh on the MSU seasonal chart. Rasmussen, who is shooting 54 percent from the field, scored 11 points and pulled down seven rebounds in MSU's win over Michigan and added eight points and five rebounds against Northwestern. She has scored in double figures four times this season. Winberg, a native of Shoreview, Minn., has also seen action in all 18 games and is averaging 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. She has scored in all but two games and posted her only double-figure contest of the year against Kentucky (11/27/96).

Senior guard Cheri Euler has been one of the most underated players during her four-year career in East Lansing. The Houghton Lake native averages just 8.2 points per game, but her work on defense and strong ballhandling skills are critical to MSU's success. Euler, who often draws the opposing team's top offensive player, averages 1.9 steals per game and is second on the squad with a 3.0 assists per game average. She has also been known to step it up on the offensive end of the court as well. In MSU's win over Vanderbilt on Jan. 15, Euler turned in one of the all-time great individual performances by a Spartan. She connected on all 11 shots from the field for an MSU-record 1.000 field goal percentage. Euler ended the game with a career-high 23 points.

MSU is among the national leaders in field goal percentage (.484), free throw percentage (.728) and scoring offense (78.9)...the Spartans have shot 40 percent or better from the field in 15 of 18 contests and have topped the 50 percent mark nine times...the Spartans are 2-2 against nationally ranked opponents this season, with wins over No. 7 Vanderbilt (82-51) and No. 15 Penn State (99-75).

The Big Ten women's basketball tournament will be played at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Ind., this season. The tourney was played at Hinkle Field House on the campus of Butler University for the first two seasons. The tournament runs from Feb. 28 to March 3. The RCA Dome, home to the Indianapolis Colts, will be set up in a modified basketball configuration which will seat between 11,000 and 11,500 spectators in the lower bowl and on the floor of the dome.

Spartan fans are reminded that tickets to MSU's home games can be purchased at Jenison Field House in advance of game-day.

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