Women's Basketball Heads To Minnesota
 
 
 
Becky Cummings and the Spartans head to Minnesota to face the Gophers on Sunday.
 
Becky Cummings and the Spartans head to Minnesota to face the Gophers on Sunday.
 
 

Jan. 6, 2001

EAST LANSING, Mich. -

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Tip-Off -- Michigan State heads out on the road to face Minnesota on Sunday (Jan. 4) at the Sports Pavilion (5,700) in Minneapolis. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m CST, as MSU looks to pick up its first Big Ten road win of the season. MSU is coming off a 62-60 victory over Ohio State on Thursday, while Minnesota dropped a 79-76 decision at home, also on Thursday.

About Michigan State

The Emergence Of Pagel -- Freshman forward Julie Pagel is making a name for herself. Over the past seven games, Pagel is averaging 11.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals. During this span, Pagel is shooting 56.0 percent (28-of-50) from the field. She scored a career-high 17 points against Ohio State as she was 7-of-11 (.636) from the field. The Utica, Mich., native also scored the game-winning basket with 2:09 remaining in the contest off a missed shot by Donita Johnson.

Getting Defensive -- MSU continues to pace the Big Ten in field goal percent defense at 35.8 percent as opponents have connected on just 248-of-693 shots. After shooting 55.2 percent in the first half, MSU held Ohio State to just 27.6 percent (8-of-29) in the second half. MSU also ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (56.6 ppg). The Spartans have held opponents to 60 points or less on nine occasions this season.

Hot From The Stripe -- MSU shot a season-best 75.0 percent (15-of-20) from the free throw line against Ohio State on Thursday. Christie Pung and Julie Pagel were both 3-for-3 from the line, while Vnemina Reese was 4-for-5. The 75.0 percent follows a season-low 37.5 percent (9-of-24), including a 3-for-12 (.250) performance in the second half, at Indiana last Sunday. For the season, MSU is connecting on just 59.3 percent (159-of-268) from the charity stripe. That mark ranks last in the Big Ten statistics.

The Return Of Cummings -- After missing five games (Dec. 5-20) due to injury, senior forward Becky Cummings made her return to the starting lineup against Ohio State. She finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes. Cummings, who came in off the bench at Indiana, added eight points and six rebounds in 25 minutes at Indiana. It was her first action since the first half of the Eastern Michigan game on Dec. 3. Cummings leads the Spartans in scoring (103 points/11.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.592, 42-of-71) and is second in rebounds (57 boards/6.3 rpg) this season.

Sunday's Opponent -- Minnesota (7-6 overall, 0-2 Big Ten)

The Coach - Cheryl Littlejohn (Tennessee 1987) is in her fourth season at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have compiled a 7-6 overall mark and a 0-2 Big Ten slate to date. Minnesota dropped a 79-76 decision to Indiana at home on Thursday. Ones To Watch - Freshman guard Lindsay Whalen paces the Gophers attack, averaging 17.2 points and 5.1 rebounds. She scored 21 points and added six rebounds in the loss to Indiana. Sophomore center Kim Prince (15.4 ppg) and freshman forward/center Tanisha Gilbert (15.0) round out the Gophers in double-figure scoring.

All-Time Series -- Michigan State leads the all-time series, 20-13. The Spartans have won six of the last eight meetings between the teams. MSU is 8-8 all-time in games played in Minneapolis.

Last Meeting -- MSU dropped a 75-71 overtime decision at Minnesota in the final regular season game for both teams on Feb 27, 2000. MSU, who trailed almost the entire first half, took their largest lead of the contest at 59-51 on back-to-back baskets by Kristen Rasmussen. But the Gophers fought back again and Erin Olson scored seven straight points to cut MSU's lead to 59-58. The Spartans took a two-point lead on a pair of free throws by Becky Cummings with 57 seconds left, but a foul on MSU sent Lindsay Lieser to the free throw line where she made two free throws to knot the score at 63-63. Cummings and Maxann Reese each hit a pair of free throws to give the Spartans a 67-63 lead in the extra session, but the Gophers quickly went up 68-67 when Olson converted a three-point play with 2:22 left in the overtime. The game stayed close the rest of the way and with MSU up 71-70, Lieser hit a wide-open three-pointer from the left corner with 1:16 remaining to give the Gophers a two-point edge and seal the victory.

Coach P vs. OSU -- This will be the first time that MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie has faced Minnesota.

Last Time Out For MSU

MSU Upends Ohio State -- Michigan State found the perfect time to pick up its first Big Ten win of the season. MSU, propelled by an 11-4 run midway through the second half, posted a 62-60 come-from-behind victory over Ohio State on Thursday (Jan. 4) at the Breslin Center. The Spartans, who trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, went into the locker room at halftime trailing by 10 (41-31). OSU opened the second half with a Jamie Lewis three pointer to extend its lead to 13 (44-31), before a Becky Cummings layup moved MSU within 11 (44-33). The Spartans slowly cut into the Buckeyes lead, going on a 19-11 run to pull within four (56-52) on a Jennifer Callier layup with 7:09 remaining. Christie Pung hit two free throws to even the game at 56 with 5:45 left. A jumper by Lewis gave the Buckeyes a 58-56 advantage before OSU extended the lead to three (60-57) on a layup by D'wan Shackleford. Donita Johnson hit a three pointer with time running out on the shot clock to tie the game at 60. Pagel scored the game-winning basket off a Johnson missed shot with 2:03 remaining. OSU had an opportunity to send the game into overtime with 2.9 second remaining, but Courtney Coleman missed the free throw attempt and a lane violation ended the Buckeye's threat. MSU was led by Julie Pagel who scored a career-best 17 points. Abby Salscheider came off the bench to add 11 points, while Becky Cummings finished with 10. DiDi Reynolds led Ohio State with 14 points, while Jamie Lewis added 11.

More Spartan Notes

Upcoming -- MSU returns to the Breslin Center to face Wisconsin Jan. 11 and Illinois Jan. 14. The Badgers (7-4 overall) are led by 1999-2000 All-Big Ten Second-Team honoree Jesse Stomski, who is averaging 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds. Illinois (5-8 overall) is led by Preseason All-Big Ten honoree Allison Curtin.

Homecoming For Skelly -- The Minnesota game marks a homecoming for senior center Erin Skelly. Skelly, who hails from Maple Grove, is the lone player on the Spartan roster who from Minnesota. Skelly was a three-year letterwinner in basketball at Osseo High School and was twice selected to the all-conference squad.

Don't Turn The Ball Over -- Guards Donita Johnson and Vnemina Reese both rank in the top 10 in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover margin. Johnson is third in assist/turnover ratio at 1.83, while Reese is 10th at 1.38. In Big Ten games only, Johnson leads the league in assist-to-turnover margin at 6.00. She had five assists against zero turnovers in 37 minutes vs. OSU.

Comeback Kids -- MSU's 62-60 come-from-behind victory over Ohio State marked the first time this season that the Spartans have won when trailing at the half. Prior to the game, MSU was 0-4 when trailing at the break. On the flip side, MSU is 5-2 when leading at the half and 1-0 when the score in tied.

Recognize This Line-Up -- MSU has used eight different starting lineup combinations in 13 games this season. Against Ohio State, MSU used a three-guard line-up, starting Donita Johnson, Candice Jackson and Vnemina Reese at guard, Julie Pagel at forward and Becky Cummings at center.

The Home Court Advantage -- In MSU's first six home games, the Spartans are averaging 73.6 points. MSU has scored at least 74 points in each of the wins. For the season, the Spartans are averaging 65.6 points. In addition, MSU is shooting 47.4 percent (158-of-333) from the field at the Breslin Center. However in games away from the Breslin, the Spartans are shooting just 40.7 percent (158-of-388). Overall, MSU is shooting 43.8 percent (316-of-721) from the field.

Freshmen Make Big Contributions -- MSU's freshmen duo of Julie Pagel and Candice Jackson have put together some pretty impressive numbers to date. Forward Pagel leads the team in rebounding (8.2 rpg) and steals (2.4 spg) while ranking third in scoring (9.0 ppg). Guard Jackson is fourth in scoring (7.5 ppg) and tied for third in assists (1.9 apg) and steals (1.2 spg).

Road Woes For MSU -- MSU is 2-5 on the road this season with the two wins over Chicago State and Samford. In the two wins, MSU averaged 82.0 points while allowing just 43.5 points. On the other hand in the five losses, MSU averaged just 51.8 points, 13.8 points below their season scoring average (65.6 ppg). On the other hand, MSU's opponents averaged just 60.4 points in the wins -- only 3.7 points above MSU's opponent season average.

On The Boards -- MSU paces the Big Ten in rebound margin. The Spartans hold a 40.5 to 31.4 advantage on the boards, a difference of +9.2 rebounds per game. MSU has outrebounded its opponent in 12 of the 13 games this season.

Pagel Gets Defensive -- A big part of MSU's success has been the play of Julie Pagel. Pagel continues to lead the Big Ten in defensive rebounds, averaging 6.38 per game. She also ranks third overall in rebounding (8.2), behind Wisconsin's Jessie Stomski (8.4 rpg) and Indiana's Jill Chapman (8.3 rpg). Pagel's numbers do not just end on rebounding. She leads MSU in steals (2.3 spg) and ranks seventh in the Big Ten. The 31 swipes places Pagel eighth on MSU's freshman records chart. She needs two more to surpass Maxann Reese (1996-97, 32) for seventh on the list.

The Shot Blocker -- Senior center Erin Skelly leads MSU with 15 blocked shots this season. That mark ranks sixth in the Big Ten statistics.

The Shot Blocker II -- Skelly continues to inch her way up the MSU career chart for blocked shots. She enters this week with 81 career blocked shots to place third on MSU's all-time chart. Kristen Rasmussen (1997-2000) holds the MSU record with 194, while Jackie Carter (1980-83) is second with 90.

Big Ten Home Openers -- The Spartans are now 13-7 all-time in Big Ten home openers since the start of league play in 1981-82. After beating Ohio State on Thursday, MSU has won two straight home Big Ten openers.

What The Stats Say -- Despite ranking last in the Big Ten in scoring offense (65.6), MSU is sixth in the Big Ten statistics in scoring margin (+8.9) and second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (56.7). (Big Ten statistics as of Jan. 5).