Jan. 4, 1998

Michigan State Drops Fourth Straight

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.- Michigan State dropped a tough, 70-60, decision to No. 24 Purdue (8-4/1-1) today to fall to 6-8 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. The loss was the ninth-straight for MSU at Mackey Arena and marked the first time in program history that the Spartans have started the conference season with an 0-4 record.

The Spartans, who were playing their fourth game in eight days, were forced to play without senior forward Bella Engen. Engen, who is MSU's second-leading scorer, suffered a sprained index finger on her shooting hand in Friday's loss to Illinois. Junior Pernille Dalgaard did not start the contest because of laryngitis and played just 17 minutes.

Despite a starting lineup consisting of one senior, three sophomores and one freshman, the Spartans led throughout most of the first half. The defining moment in the game came with the contest deadlocked at 34-34 with just 2:30 left in the first half. The Spartans then gave up several offensive rebounds and an easy basket to let Purdue take a 39-34 lead and the momentum into halftime.

"In my mind, that was the key to the game," MSU coach Karen Langeland said. "We cannot have moments like that and expect to win in this conference."

Purdue junior Stephanie White helped the Boilermakers pick up where they left off, scoring eight points during a 14-2 run to give Purdue its biggest lead of the game at 53-36 with 15:02 remaining. The Spartans settled down and eventually pulled within six points (64-58) after back-to-back three-pointers by sophomore Maxann Reese with 3:15 left to play.

The Boilermakers countered with another basket by White and the Spartans were unable to convert on several opportunities down the stretch.

White led all scorers with 28 points, while guard Ukari Figgs scored 18 points and hauled down 13 rebounds. Senior Jamie Wesley scored all of her 13 points in the first half to lead the Spartans. Reese ended the contest with 12, while freshman Becky Cummings came off the bench to score a season-high 12 points and pull down eight rebounds.

Michigan State has two home games on the schedule next week. The Spartans will host Ohio State on Friday, Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m., and Minnesota on Sunday, Jan. 11 at 2 p.m., at the Breslin Center.