Nov. 21, 1999
East Lansing, Mich. - Freshman Maria Recker grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a short jumper with 0.8 seconds left to give the Michigan State (2-0) women's basketball team a 73-72 victory over Alabama (1-1) in the championship game of the Felpausch/MSU Classic tonight at the Breslin Center.
The Crimson Tide, who led by as many as 10 points in the game, took a 72-71 lead with 11.9 seconds remaining on a basket underneath by Shondra Johnson. Following a timeout, the Spartans took the ball the length of the court and a shot by Vnemina Reese was off the mark, but Recker grabbed the critical offensive rebound and put it in to give the Spartans the victory.
?I guess if you are going to be ahead it might as well be at the end of the game,? MSU coach Karen Langeland said. ?I felt if we could keep it close, with our experience, we would have a shot at winning it and that's what happened.
?I was pleased with how we executed down the stretch,? Langeland added. ?We did some things at the end of the game that we have not practiced in terms of switching offenses and defenses. I thought my team did a great job of focusing in timeouts and doing what we needed to do coming out of those timeouts. That was a big difference in the end of the game.
?What can you say about Maria, she came out of nowhere to get the offensive rebound. We did what we initially wanted to do, unfortunately we missed the shot, but Maria was there to get the board and put it in.?
The Spartans had to overcome a sluggish performance in the first half after shooting just 31 percent from the field and trailing 32-26 at the half. The Crimson Tide took a 10-point lead, their biggest advantage of the game, on a layup by LaNisha Cartwell early in the second half.
Senior Maxann Reese connected on a trio of three-point field goals to help MSU pull within four at 42-38 with 16:24 remaining. Junior Becky Cummings converted a three-point play to pull the Spartans within 50-49 at the 11:36 mark, but Alabama answered again and pushed the lead back to six on a three-pointer by Taquilla Allen.
MSU stayed within striking distance the remainder of the way and took its second lead of the game when Cummings made a pair of free throws to make it 69-68 with 1:53 to go. Joni Crenshaw tied the game at 69-69 when she made one of two free throws with 1:29 left and the Tide took a 70-69 lead when Allen hit one of two from the charity stripe with just 1:16 left.
Redshirt freshman Vnemina Reese gave MSU a one-point advantage when she hit a pair of free throws with 1:05 left to play. On Alabama's ensuing trip up the court, junior Donita Johnson stole the ball, but the Spartans couldn't convert on an off-balance shot by Maxann Reese as the shot clock was winding down setting up the final seconds of action.
Maxann Reese and Cummings paced the Spartans with 20 points each, while senior Kristen Rasmussen contributed 12 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. Recker ended the game with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes of play off the bench.
Maxann Reese was named the tournament MVP, while Cummings and Rasmussen were named to the all-tournament team.
St. John's defeated Appalachian State, 69-63, to win the consolation game.
The Spartans will travel to Detroit on Wednesday, Nov. 24, to face the Titans in a 7 p.m., tipoff.
1999 FELPAUSCH/MSU CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Becky Cummings Michigan State Kristen Rasmussen Michigan State ?Boo? Barnes Alabama Shondra Johnson Alabama Giani Bowles St. John's
Most Valuable Player
Maxann Reese Michigan State