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Women's Basketball Hosts Wisconsin and Illinois at the Breslin Center

Jan. 9, 2001


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Tip-Off - Michigan State returns to the Breslin Center for a pair of games this weekend. The Spartans entertain Wisconsin this Thursday (Jan. 11), at 7 p.m., and Illinois on Sunday (Jan. 14), at 2 p.m. Michigan State is coming off a 66-65 victory at Minnesota on Sunday, while Wisconsin dropped an 82-80 overtime decision to Wisconsin-Green Bay. Illinois posted a 75-71 win over previously-undefeated Penn State on Sunday.

About Michigan State

Hot From The Stripe -- Michigan State has been on fire from the free throw line, shooting 75.0 percent over the past two games. Against Minnesota, MSU was 9-of-12 (.750) from the line. MSU also shot 75.0 percent (15-of-20) from the free throw line against Ohio State on Jan. 4. 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, in the first Big Ten game at Indiana on Dec. 31. For the season, MSU is connecting on just 60.0 percent (168-of-280) from the charity stripe. That mark ranks last in the Big Ten statistics.

Co-Big Ten Player of the Week -- Freshman forward Julie Pagel was named the Co-Big Ten Player of the Week for her performance in MSU's two wins last week. Pagl shares the honor with Purdue freshman Shalicia Hurns. Pagel posted her second career double-double in the win over Minnesota, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. She was 4-of-6 (.667) from the field, including a 4-for-4 performance from the free throw line. She also added four assists in 34 minutes. In MSU's 62-60 win over Ohio State, Pagel scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed six rebounds. She was 7-of-11 (.636) from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line.

Getting Defensive -- MSU continues to pace the Big Ten in field goal percent defense at 36.1 percent as opponents have connected on just 271-of-751 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 (57.3 ppg). The Spartans have held opponents to 60 points or less on nine occasions this season.

This Week's Opponents

Wisconsin (7-5 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) The Coach - Jane Albright (Appalachian State 1977) is in her seventh year behind the Badger bench. The Badgers captured the 2000 WNIT title with a 75-74 win over Florida. Albright has led UW to a 7-5 overall mark this season.

Ones To Watch - UW is paced by four players in double figures led by junior forward Jessie Stomski at 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds. Preseason All-Big Ten honoree LaTonya Sims is averaging 15.9 points.

All-Time Series -- Michigan State leads the all-time series, 25-17. However, the Badgers have won two straight games, including a 77-45 win in the WNIT Quarterfinals on March 22, 2000, and four of the last five. MSU is 16-3 all-time in games played in East Lansing.

Last Meeting -- Wisconsin beat MSU 77-45 in the WNIT Quarterfinals March 22. The Badgers used a 25-8 run late in the first half to take a 41-22 lead into the locker room at the half. MSU was led by Becky Cummings and Maxann Reese with 10 points each.

Coach P vs. OSU -- MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie is 0-1 all-time vs. Wisconsin.

Illinois (6-8 overall, 1-1 Big Ten)

The Coach - Theresa Grentz (Immaculata 1974) is in her sixth season at Illinois and 27th overall. The Fighting Illini have compiled a 6-8 mark in 2000-01. Four of Illinois' eight losses have been to Tennessee, Texas, UConn and Georgia.

Ones To Watch - Preseason All-Big Ten honoree Allison Curtin paces the Illinois attack. Guard Curtin is averaging 13.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.9 assists. Freshman forward/center Iveta Marcauskaite is second in scoring (12.0 ppg) and third in rebounding (5.7 rpg).

All-Time Series -- Michigan State leads the all-time series, 21-19. Illinois has won six straight meetings, including sweeping the 1999-2000 series with an 82-60 win in East Lansing and an 86-66 victory in Champaign. MSU's last win over Illinois was on Feb. 16, 1997 -- a 78-75 victory in East Lansing.

Last Meeting -- Illinois beat MSU 72-67 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. on March 3, 2000. Illinois had five players in double figures led by Susan Blauser and Allison Curtin with 16 points apiece. Maxann Reese paced the Spartans with 23.

Coach P vs. OSU -- MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie in 0-1 all-time vs. Illinois.

Last Time Out For MSU

MSU Picks Up Big Ten Road Win -- Michigan State posted its second straight Big Ten Conference win, a 66-65 victory over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 7) at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis. The Spartans shot a blistering 62.5 percent (15-of-24) in the second half and held Minnesota to just 39.3 percent (11-of-28) shooting from the field in picking up the road victory. MSU, who shot 75 percent (9-of-12) from the free throw line, was led by Vnemina Reese with 16 points, while Julie Pagel and Becky Cummings each added 12 points. Michigan State, who let a 10-point first half lead slip away, went into the locker room at the half trailing 33-28. The Spartans opened the first 59 seconds of the second half on a 5-0 run on a three-point field goal by Reese and a pair of free throws by Pagel to even the score at 33. The teams exchanged baskets before MSU took its first lead of the second half (40-39) on a three-point basket by Donita Johnson. Five straight points by Reese helped the Spartans to a 63-50 advantage with 5:02 remaining. Minnesota's Tanisha Gilbert hit a jumper to pull the Gophers within five (60-55). But once again, MSU extended the lead to seven (62-55) on a Maria Recker jumper with 3:09 remaining. Minnesota would not go away as the Gophers pulled to within two (64-62) on a free throw by Lindsay Whalen. Donita Johnson hit a pair of free throws to give MSU a 66-62 advantage with 15 seconds remaining. Tanisha Gilbert hit a three-point basket with 0.6 seconds left to pull Minnesota within one (66-65) before time expired.

More Spartan Notes

Upcoming -- Following the Wisconsin and Illinois games, the Spartans head out on the road to face Big Ten leader Purdue on Jan. 18. Purdue beat Indiana 67-59 on Sunday night in Bloomington.

Big Ten Road Win -- MSU picked up its first Big Ten road win at Minnesota on Sunday. Prior to the win, MSU had lost six straight Big Ten games on the road. MSU's last Big Ten road win was an 82-77 win at Iowa on Jan. 20, 2000.

Comeback Kids -- The Minnesota game marked the second straight game that the Spartans have won when trailing at the half. MSU erased a five-point halftime deficit at Minnesota in route to a 66-65 victory. MSU's 62-60 come-from-behind victory over Ohio State (Jan. 4) marked the first time this season that the Spartans have won when trailing at the half. Prior to that 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.

The Home Court Advantage -- In MSU's first six home games, the Spartans are averaging 73.6 points while allowing just 58 points. For the season, the Spartans are averaging 65.6 points while giving up 57.3. MSU has held opponents to 63 points or less in each of its five home wins. 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 42.0 percent (184-of-438). Overall, MSU is shooting 44.4 percent (342-of-771) from the field.

Recognize This Line-Up -- MSU has used nine different starting lineup combinations in 14 games this season. At Minnesota, MSU started Julie Pagel and Abby Salscheider at forward, Becky Cummings at center, and Donita Johnson and Vnemina Reese at guard. Against Ohio State (Jan. 4), 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.

Off The Bench -- Sophomore forward Maria Recker turned in a solid performance off the bench at Minnesota. Recker finished with eight points, including two three-point baskets. It was her best offensive performance since she posted nine points vs. Central Michigan (Dec. 20). Recker is averaging 5.1 points and 1.5 rebounds this season. In addition, sophomore center Jennifer Callier came in off the bench to add four points, three rebounds and one steal in 13 minutes. Callier has played in 13 games, averaging 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds.

Reese To The Rescue -- Sophomore point guard Vnemina Reese had her fifth double-figure scoring game of the season with 16 points at Minnesota. Reese was 7-of-9 (.778) from the field, including a 2-for-2 performance from the three-point line.

The Emergence Of Pagel -- Freshman forward Julie Pagel is making a name for herself. Over the past seven games, Pagel is averaging 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists. During this span, Pagel is shooting 57.1 percent (32-of-56) from the field. She has recorded back-to-back games in double figures with a career-high 17 points against Ohio State and 12 at Minnesota. She also posted her second double-double of the season, picking up 12 rebounds at Minnesota.

Don't Turn The Ball Over -- Guards Donita Johnson and Vnemina Reese both rank in the top 12 in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover margin. Johnson is second in assist/turnover ratio at 1.88, while Reese is 12th at 1.27. In the past two games, Johnson has recorded 12 assists and just three turnovers. In Big Ten play only, Johnson ranks second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.25.

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 (8.5 rpg) and steals (2.2 spg) while ranking third in scoring (9.2 ppg). Guard Jackson is fourth in scoring (7.5 ppg) and tied for third in assists (1.9 apg) and steals (1.2 spg). Jackson is currently out of the line-up with a knee injury.

Road Woes For MSU -- MSU is 3-5 on the road this season with wins over Chicago State, Samford and Minnesota. In the three wins, MSU averaged 76.7 points while allowing just 50.7 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 40.2-to-31.2 advantage on the boards, a difference of +9.0 rebounds per game. MSU has outrebounded its opponent in 13 of the 14 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 6.64 per game. She also leads the Big Ten in rebounding (8.5), ahead of Wisconsin's Jessie Stomski (8.1 rpg) and Indiana's Jill Chapman (8.1 rpg). Pagel's numbers do not just end on rebounding. She leads MSU in steals (2.2 spg) and ranks tied for 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. She 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.

What The Stats Say -- Despite ranking last in the Big Ten in scoring offense (65.6), MSU is fifth in the Big Ten statistics in scoring margin (+8.4) and second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (57.3). (Big Ten statistics as of Jan. 8).



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