February 12, 1999
Site: Breslin Center - East Lansing, MI
Game Result: Michigan State 81, Northwestern 69
Records: Michigan State 13-11 overall, 7-7 Big Ten; Northwestern 10-13 overall, 4-9 Big Ten
MSU's Next Action: vs. Michigan, February 14, 1999 (5:00 p.m., EST) - Breslin Center
East Lansing MI - Junior Kristen Rasmussen (East Lansing) recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 28 points and a season-high 17 rebounds to lead the Michigan State women's basketball to an 81-69 victory over Northwestern tonight at the Breslin Center. With the victory, the Spartans improved to 13-11 overall and moved into a fifth place tie with Wisconsin in the Big Ten with a 7-7 mark, while the Wildcats fall to 10-13 overall and 4-9 in the conference.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was a significant win for us," MSU coach Karen Langeland said. "Again, an outstanding performance by Kristen Rasmussen, particularly in the first half. The kind of numbers that she is putting up is unbelievable."
Rasmussen, who scored 20 of her 28 points in the first half, also had six assists, three blocks and three steals in the contest. She scored MSU's final eight points in the first half to send the Spartans into the intermission with a 39-34 advantage.
Rasmussen's basket at the 17:28 mark of the second half capped a 9-2 run to push the Spartans lead to double figures at 48-36. A three-pointer by senior Megan Chawansky with 13:11 left to play cut the deficit to nine points at 57-48, but back-to-back baskets by junior Maxann Reese quickly pushed the lead up to 16 at 64-48 with 10:46 to go.
The Wildcats got the deficit under double-digits again with 6:53 to go on a layup by sophomore Tami Sears, but the Spartans responded again, going on a 7-0 run to go up by 16 points at 75-59 with 3:57 left to play to put the game out of reach.
Reese ended the game with 20 points, while sophomore Becky Cummings posted her seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Abby Salscheider came off the bench to score seven points and pull down four rebounds, while sophomore Christie Pung tied her career high with eight assists.
As a team, the Spartans shot 48 percent from the field and outrebounded the Wildcats, 49-35.
Chawansky paced Northwestern with 29 points, while sophomore Dana Leonard scored 20 points and dished out seven assists.
The Spartans play their final regular-season home game of the season on Sunday, Feb. 14 when they host Michigan in a 5 p.m., tipoff at the Breslin Center. MSU is in a battle with the Wolverines and Wisconsin for the fifth spot in the Big Ten and a coveted first-round bye in the conference tournament.
"We all know the importance of these last few games," Langeland said. "Whether it's us or Wisconsin or Ohio State or Michigan we are all kind of in the same boat. These last two games are critical and they are must-win games for everybody.
"Michigan is going to come in here and play as hard as they can and so are we," Langeland added. "What we are hoping is that we will have some support from our fans. If we can get some fan support here on Sunday, I think that will be a tremendous advantage for us."
AROUND THE BIG TEN TONIGHT
Illinois def. Michigan, 81-79
Purdue def. Penn State, 76-74 OT
Iowa def. Minnesota, 79-62
Wisconsin def. Ohio State, 83-79 OT