January 8, 1999
Site: Breslin Center - East Lansing, MI
Game Result: Michigan State 77, Wisconsin 74
Records: Michigan State 8-5 overall, 2-1 Big Ten; Wisconsin 7-7 overall, 2-3 Big Ten
MSUs Next Action: at Penn State - Jan. 11, 1999 (7:30 p.m., EST) - State College, PA
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Juniors Kristen Rasmussen (East Lansing) and Maxann Reese (Highland Park, MI) combined for 46 points and Michigan State shot a blistering 62 percent from the field to lead the Spartans to an exciting 77-74 victory over Wisconsin tonight at the Breslin Center.
The Spartans won their second straight Big Ten game and improved to 8-5 overall and 2-1 in the conference, while the Badgers fall to 7-7 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten.
"They (the MSU players) proved to themselves that they can win close ballgames," MSU coach Karen Langeland said. "If they stick together, if they play well defensively and if they execute they learned they can pull out the close games."
Reese scored 12 points in the opening nine minutes of the game to give MSU a 25-18 advantage with 8:41 to go in the half. Wisconsin outscored the Spartans, 22-4, over the next 6:47 to take a 40-29 lead with 1:54 to go. Reeses three-pointer with 13 seconds left helped the Spartans go into the intermission trailing by just six at 40-34.
"Reese is a great player, one of the best in the Big Ten," Wisconsin coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. "That shot she hit at the end of the first half changed the momentum of the game for them. I really felt like we had some momentum and she comes off a pick and pulls up and hits a three-pointer. Shes exceptional."
"Thank goodness for her (Reese) in the first half because she kept us in the game," Langeland said. "Max had an outstanding game. I cant say enough about how well she is playing right now."
Rasmussen, who scored 19 of her 21 points in the second half, hit a three-pointer from the top of the key and scored on a driving layup to tie the game at 51-51 with 14:04 left to play, the first tie since the midway point of the first half.
Missy Koniecznys basket gave the Badgers a four point (61-57) lead with 12:25 to go, but Rasmussen tied it up again with back-to-back baskets. Overall, the second half featured five ties and five lead changes.
"We got into foul trouble at that post spot and I thought that really changed the game," Albright-Dieterle said. "Our post defense was very good in the first half before we got into foul trouble. They (MSU) really capitalized on that and took advantage of it. They got it to Rasmussen and she made us pay for it."
Rookie Abby Salscheiders driving layup gave the Spartans a three-point advantage at the 6:08 mark, but Wisconsin fought back again, tying the game at 69-69 on a bucket by Tanisha Boston with 4:38 left to play.
Sophomore Donita Johnson intercepted a Badger pass and drove the length of the court for a layup and Rasmussen converted inside to put MSU up 75-70 with 2:19 to go and give the Spartans their biggest lead since the 8:41 mark of the first half.
Wisconsin pounded the ball inside and back-to-back buckets by rookie Jessie Stomski and sophomore LaTonya Sims cut the deficit to 75-74 with a minute to go. Wisconsin still had life after Becky Cummings missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:10 to go, but the Badgers couldnt convert. Senior Pernille Dalgaard sealed the victory with her only basket of the second half with 24 seconds remaining.
Reese hit 11-of-16 shots from the field, including 3-of-7 from three-point range en route to her game-high 25 points. She also contributed five assists and had just one turnover in 39 minutes of action. Rasmussen went 9-of-9 from the field for her first 20-point game since Dec. 1. Cummings added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Spartans, who shot 69 percent from the field in the second half.
Four Badgers scored in double figures led by Sims 18 points and six rebounds. Stomski added 12 points and six rebounds for the Badgers, who shot 52 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Spartans, 32-23.
The Spartans now play two-straight road games against nationally ranked teams. MSU travels to State College, Pa., to take on No. 17 Penn State on Monday, Jan. 11, before facing No. 3 Purdue on Friday, Jan. 15 in West Lafayette, Ind.