March 19, 2000
Cincinnati, Ohio - Cincinnati, Ohio - The Michigan State women's basketball team shot a season-high 57 percent from the field and overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Cincinnati, 88-83, at the Shoemaker Center to advance to the quarterfinals of the Women's National Invitational Tournament. The Spartans, who improve to 19-11 on the season, will face the winner of Sunday's Wisconsin-DePaul contest.
"Cincinnati played a heck of a game," MSU coach Karen Langeland said. "We feel very fortunate to come away with a win and at the same time, I thought our players did a nice job coming back from a 14-point deficit."
The Bearcats jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead in the game, prompting Langeland to replace all five starters with 16:52 left in the opening half. Cincinnati extended its lead to 14 points at 27-13 with 11:57 to go, but the Spartans' starting five returned with a renewed effort.
"We have a habit of getting down early in games and I've tried a number of things that haven't worked, so I thought I would try something new," Langeland said of replacing her starters. "What I really wanted was to give them the opportunity to sit and regroup. I think a great deal of credit has to go to the group of five that went in. They maintained, they didn't make a lot of mistakes and they gave our starters the chance to get themselves together."
The game remained close for the first nine minutes of the second half before an 11-3 run by the Spartans gave MSU its biggest lead of the game at 71-64 with 8:03 left in the contest. The Bearcats came back and tied the score at 77-77 with 3:33 left, but the Spartans responded with a pair of free throws by junior Becky Cummings and a steal and layup by redshirt freshman Vnemina Reese to put MSU up, 81-77 with 2:55 remaining.
The Spartans made five of six free throws in the final minute of play to secure their first road win since Jan. 20.
"We did some pretty good things at the end and made some key free throws," Langeland said. "I was also extremely pleased with the way we executed our zone defense."
Maxann Reese paced the Spartans with 29 points, on 11-of-20 shooting from the field. Rasmussen added 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Cummings contributed 14 points and four rebounds. Vnemina Reese posted her third-straight double-figure scoring game with a season-high 11 points. She also had four assists and tied her career high with six steals.
Senior Madinah Slaise paced the Bearcats with a career-high 38 points, while Candice Holley added 12 points and seven rebounds.