Dec. 2, 1999
East Lansing, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team built a large first half lead and cruised to a 91-65 win over Illinois State tonight at the Breslin Center. The Spartans, who are off to their best start since the 1984-85 campaign, improve to 5-0 with the victory. The loss snaps the Redbirds' three-game winning streak and moves them to 3-2 on the year.
Senior Maxann Reese scored 18 points in the first half as the Spartans went into the intermission with a 52-27 advantage. MSU shot 52 percent from the floor in the opening period and committed just one turnover, while it forced 13 Redbird miscues and held them to just 38 percent shooting from the floor.
?I was very pleased with our first half effort,? MSU coach Karen Langeland said. ?We did everything we wanted to do defensively to take them out of their offense. It's always tough going into the locker room with that kind of a lead and I think Illinois State did what all good teams do and that was raise its game to another level in the second half. We obviously were not prepared for that even though we talked about what we wanted to do coming out of the break.?
Junior center JoAnna Stuelke scored six points in the first few minutes of the second half as the Redbirds went on a 14-3 run to cut MSU's lead to 55-41 with 16:32 left in the game. The Spartans pushed the lead back to 20 points when sophomore Jill Blazek hit a pair of free throws and came back with a bucket in the paint to give MSU a 65-45 advantage with 13:03 to play.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Shandeen Hunt pulled ISU within 13 points (72-59) at the 6:18 mark, but that's as close as the Redbirds would get. The Spartans held ISU to just six points in the final six minutes of the game to secure the victory.
Reese, who was 4-of-7 from three-point range, ended the game with a season-high 25 points and four assists. Senior Kristen Rasmussen had her best offensive effort of the year, scoring 19 points, on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. Rasmussen also collected eight rebounds to become the sixth player in Spartan history to record 700 rebounds in a career.
Junior Becky Cummings rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Spartans with 14 points and seven rebounds. Junior Donita Johnson had a solid effort for MSU with nine points, four rebounds, five assists and no turnovers in 29 minutes. Junior Erin Skelly and sophomore Abby Salscheider added seven points each off the bench.
The Spartans begin a stretch of three-straight road games with a contest against Butler on Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on WJIM Radio (1240 AM).