Jan. 23, 2000
East Lansing, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team used a 16-0 run early in the second half to propel it to a 71-63 upset of No. 4 Penn State today at the Breslin Center, giving the Lady Lions their first loss in the Big Ten (7-1). The victory is the fourth straight for the Spartans, who are 14-4 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten. The win was also MSU's 12th-straight at home. Penn State, the highest ranked team MSU has ever beaten, falls to 16-3 overall and suffers its first loss in 12 games.
?They don't come much better than this,? MSU coach Karen Langeland said. ?We had an incredible number of people step up today and we did an outstanding job on defense and on the boards. I don't even know where to start in terms of singling people out because everyone just came up so big and had a great game.?
Penn State took a slim 38-35 lead into halftime and went up 42-37 on a basket by Maren Walseth at the 18:35 mark of the second half. The Lady Lions didn't score again for eight minutes and four seconds as the Spartans went on a 16-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 53-42 with 11:27 left to play.
?If I had to go back to a key time in the game, that was it,? Penn State coach Rene Portland said. ?They went to a 2-3 zone and it gave us a little trouble. We didn't attack and that was one of the things we wanted to do.?
Walseth ended the drought with back-to-back baskets that cut the deficit to seven at 53-46 at the 10:11 mark, but senior Kristen Rasmussen responded with a jumper to put the Spartans up by nine.
A three-pointer by Katrena Carr pulled Penn State within five at 57-52, but that's as close as the Lady Lions would get.
Rasmussen scored eight points in the final eight and a half minutes of the contest to help the Spartans secure the victory. She ended the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season.
Just as important was the play of the Spartan bench, which outscored the Penn State reserves, 25-6. Freshman Maria Recker led the way scoring 13 points, including 10 in the first half. Junior Christie Pung was also stellar of the bench, scoring eight points and handing out a pair of assists in 17 minutes of action.
?If there was ever a total team effort this was it,? Langeland said. ?Penn State does so many things offensively and defensively and runs so many presses that it is difficult to prepare for them. I thought our players did a nice job of staying focused, they handled everything that Penn State threw at us and at the same time we were patient on offense and took nothing but good shots.?
Junior Becky Cummings had another solid game, scoring 18 points and pulling down eight rebounds. She also had four assists and two steals. Redshirt freshman Vnemina Reese did a great job of running the Spartan offense, scoring six points and dishing out four assists.
?Mina (Reese) was outstanding,? Langeland said. ?She handled the pressure, she took good shots when they left her open, she got the ball to the right people and the best part of her game was her defense. She was outstanding today - it was a career game for her.?
?Certainly we are disappointed with today because we were on a little bit of a roll,? Portland said. ?Give credit to Michigan State, they did a terrific job. They wanted it a little more than we did, they played very hard and they got more out of their bench than we did. Going down the stretch, we made a little run but I think we went to the wrong people. When Maren Walseth is hot you don't go to other people.?
Walseth paced Penn State with 17 points, while Andrea Garner added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Chrissy Falcone was the other player in double figures with 11 points.
The Spartans, who have won four straight Big Ten games for the first time since 1996-97, are on the road for two games next week. MSU plays at Ohio State on Jan. 27 before facing Illinois on Sunday, Jan. 30 in Champaign.