Spartans Hold Off Akron In First Round of WNIT
Dalgaard has career night in 76-65; Spartans to face Michigan in second round.
March 12, 1999
Site: Breslin Center - East Lansing, MI (WNIT First Round)
Game Result: Michigan State 76, Akron 65
Records: Michigan State 16-13; Akron 16-13
MSU's Next Action: at Michigan, Sunday, March 14, 1999 - 2 p.m., EST
East Lansing, Mich. - Senior Pernille Dalgaard recorded the first double-double of her career with 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to lead the Michigan State women's basketball team to a 76-65 win over Akron in the first round of play in the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
The Spartans, who improved to 16-13 on the season, advance to second round action where they will face Big Ten rival Michigan, a 73-64 winner over Western Michigan tonight.
"Certainly not one of our best performances, but we will take it and we are still playing," MSU coach Karen Langeland said. "We really struggled and I guess I would attribute most of it to not having played a game in 12 days. You do as much as you can in practice, but no matter how much you do you cant simulate a game situation."
Akron came out strong in the opening minutes of the game, jumping out to an 11-5 start before MSU regrouped and tied the contest at 14-14 on a three-pointer by sophomore Donita Johnson. The teams traded leads the rest of the half before sophomore Becky Cummings scored MSU's final three points of the opening stanza to go into the locker room with a slim 35-32 advantage.
A 16-footer by junior Kristen Rasmussen pushed MSU's lead to eight points at 44-36 at the 16:12 mark of the second half. Dalgaard converted underneath to give the Spartans at 61-49 cushion with 9:03 left to play.
The Zips didn't quit though as junior Abby Hoy's three-pointer culminated a 13-4 run by Akron to cut the deficit to three points at 65-62 with 3:44 left to play. The Zips had a chance to cut the deficit to one point, but rookie Felicia Bell missed the front end of a one-and-one.
The Spartans took advantage, scoring on three-straight fastbreak layups to go up 71-63 with 1:01 to play to put the game out of reach. Three free throws by junior Maxann Reese and a layup by Rasmussen accounted for the final margin of victory.
"I thought in the end when Akron came back that we did a pretty good job of coming up with some steals and getting some quick baskets when we needed to," Langeland said.
MSU had a balanced scoring attack with five players scoring in double figures led by Rasmussen's 14 points. The Second-Team All-Big Ten honoree added 10 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season and extended her consecutive free throw streak to 25 with a 4-for-4 performance from the charity stripe.
Rassmussen converted a layin at the 16:52 mark of the first half to become the 11th player in school history to score 1,000 points in a career. She ranks 11th on the all-time chart with 1,011 points.
Dalgaard, the only senior on the Spartan squad, collected seven offensive rebounds en route to her career high 10 rebound performance, while Cummings also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
Sophomore Erin Skelly was tough off the bench for the Spartans, scoring 10 points and pulling down five rebounds, while sophomore Christie Pung chipped in with four points and six assists.
"If she is going to have a double-double and only one in her career, she might as well of had it in this game because we sure needed it," Langeland said of Dalgaard's performance. "Between her and Erin Skelly and Christie Pungs game coming off the bench, we needed those kids badly tonight and they came through big time for us."
Reese struggled from the floor, hitting just 4-of-19 shots from the field and was held to 12 points, well below her 17.9 points per game average.
Sophomore forward Cheryl Bowles paced the Zips with 25 points and seven rebounds, while Hoy ended the contest with 18 points.
"I guess this means we are 1-1 against the Big Ten this year," Akron coach Roxanne Allen said in reference to her team's non-conference victory over Indiana. "This is the one I would have chosen to win if I had a choice in the matter. For those of you who were watching the game and not our bench, you got to miss our point guard throwing up through most of it. It really had an effect on our game obviously. Normally Erica (Glover) is quite a contributor and she really struggled tonight."
The Spartans and Wolverines will tipoff at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor.
"We certainly know Michigan well and they know us," Langeland said of Sunday's matchup with the Wolverines. "It's going to be a typical Michigan-Michigan State game."