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Women's Basketball Faces Two Key Big Ten Opponents This Week

Jan. 23, 2001


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Tip-Off --Michigan State hits the key stretch of its Big Ten Conference schedule with two important games this week. The Spartans entertain arch-rival Michigan this Thursday (Jan. 25), at 8 p.m., at the Breslin Center. The MSU-UM game will be televised live on Fox Sports Chicago with Jim Barbar providing the play-by-play and Debbie Antonelli the color commentary. On Sunday (Jan. 28), MSU heads to State College, Pa., to face No. 16/13-ranked Penn State. MSU lost its only game last week (57-34) to No. 6-ranked Purdue. Meanwhile, Michigan picked up wins over Northwestern (83-41) and Ohio State (76-63), while Penn State split a pair of games with Indiana (W, 89-68) and Iowa (L, 79-64).

About Michigan State

Cummings Questionable For This Week's Action -- Senior forward Becky Cummings is questionable for this week's action after reaggravating her injured foot in practice last Wednesday (Jan. 17). Cummings missed five games (Dec. 5-20) with a torn plantar fascia in her foot before returning to action at Indiana (Dec. 31). Cummings is currently the Spartans leading scorer (11.8 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (6.3 rpg). She is shooting 57.7 percent (56-of-97) from the field and 49.2 percent (29-of-59) from the free throw line. An All-Big Ten honoree in 1999-2000, Cummings is averaging 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds for her career. She ranks second all-time in MSU history in field goal percentage (.577, 383-of-664).

This Week's Starting Five -- MSU has used 11 different starting lineup combinations this season. MSU started Julie Pagel and Abby Salscheider at forward, Erin Skelly at center, and Christie Pung and Vnemina Reese at guard at Purdue. MSU's only consistent in the starting rotation has been point guard Vnemina Reese. Reese has started all 17 games this season and 53 consecutive games.

Looking At The Statistics -- Despite ranking 10th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (62.8), MSU is eighth in the Big Ten statistics in scoring margin (+3.8) and third in the Big Ten in scoring defense (59.0). (Big Ten statistics as of Jan. 21).

Getting Defensive -- MSU continues to pace the Big Ten in field goal percent defense at 37.6 percent as opponents have connected on 343-of-912 shots. MSU also ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring defense (59.0). The Spartans have held opponents to 60 points or less on 10 occasions this season.

This Week's Opponent

Michigan (11-7 overall, 4-4 Big Ten)

The Coach - Former MSU associate head coach Sue Guevara is in her fifth season at the helm of the Wolverine program. Guevara and the Wolverines have posted an 11-7 overall mark and a 4-4 Big Ten slate.

Ones To Watch - Sophomore center LeeAnn Bies, a member of the 1999-2000 Big Ten All-Freshman team, leads U-M in scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg). Bies is shooting 55.3 percent (84-of-152) from the field and 67.4 percent (60-of-89) from the free throw line.

All-Time Series -- Michigan State leads the all-time series with the Wolverines, 39-12. The Spartans are 20-5 all-time in games played in East Lansing. However, Michigan has won two straight meetings and five of the last seven.

1999-2000 Season Series -- U-M swept the 1999-2000 series, picking up a 64-61 win in Ann Arbor on Dec. 30 and an 90-87 double-overtime victory in East Lansing on Feb. 20.

Coach P vs. Michigan -- This is the first-ever meeting with Michigan for MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie.

No. 16/13 Penn State (12-6 overall, 4-3 Big Ten)

The Coach - Rene Portland is in her 21st year behind the Lady Lion bench and 24th overall. Penn State, who is ranked No. 16 by the Associated Press and No. 13 by USA Today, carries a 12-6 overall mark and a 4-4 Big Ten slate into this week's action.

Ones To Watch - Four of Penn State's starting five are averaging in double figures led by freshman guard Kelly Mazzante at 17.9 points. Lisa Shepherd (15.7 ppg), Maren Walseth (14.1 ppg) and Rashana Barnes (10.9 ppg) round out the Lady Lions in double figures.

All-Time Series -- Penn State leads the all-time series, 12-2, including a 7-0 mark in games played at University Park. MSU's two wins have been in East Lansing -- a 99-75 victory on Dec. 30, 1996 and a 71-63 upset on Jan. 23, 2000.

1999-2000 Season Series -- MSU used a 16-0 run early in the second half to post a 71-63 upset of then No. 4-ranked Penn State on Jan. 23, 2000 in East Lansing. Becky Cummings led all scorers with 18 points, while Kristen Rasmussen added 17 points and 11 rebounds. PSU was led by Maren Walseth with 17 points.

Coach P vs. Penn State -- This is the first-ever meeting vs. Penn State for MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie.

Last Time Out For MSU

No. 6-ranked Purdue Beats MSU -- A strong second-half performance helped propel No. 6-ranked Purdue to a 57-34 victory over Michigan State on Thurs., Jan. 18 in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Spartans held tough in the opening 20 minutes against the sixth-ranked Boilermakers. MSU jumped out to an early 9-6 lead on a jumper by Abby Salscheider, but Purdue would answer right back to pull within one (9-8) before tying the game on a free throw by Shalicia Hurns. After a Salscheider bucket gave MSU an 11-9 advantage, the Boilermakers rattled off nine straight points to take an18-11 lead with 5:52 left in the first half. A pair of free throws by Julie Pagel helped MSU pull within five (18-13) but two straight baskets extended the Boilermakers advantage to nine (22-13). Pagel would give the Spartans a boost heading to the locker room at the break, hitting a shot with five seconds remaining to help MSU to a seven-point deficit (22-15) at the break. Vnemina Reese helped the Spartans pull within five (22-17) to open the second half on a short jumper. But, Purdue would answer right back with a three-point play by Katie Douglas to take an eight-point advantage (25-17). The undermanned Spartans would keep it close, pulling to within four (32-28) on a jumper by Abby Salscheider with 11:11 to go in the game. The Boilermakers would go on a 20-2 run over the next seven minutes to take a commanding 52-30 advantage with just 3:10 remaining. Christie Pung would break MSU's scoring drought hitting basket at the 2:43 mark to help pull the Spartans within 20 (52-32). Pung closed out the Spartan scoring, hitting a layup with 1:58 remaining before a three-point field goal by Beth Jones gave the Boilermakers the 55-34 victory. Julie Pagel paced the Spartans with 10 points and nine rebounds. Christie Pung, making her second straight start, added seven points, while Abby Salscheider finished with six. Purdue All-American Katie Douglas led all scorers with 15 points. Camille Cooper and Shalicia Hurns added 11 and 10 points, respectively for Purdue.

More Spartan Notes

Upcoming -- Following the Michigan and Penn State contests, MSU returns to the Breslin Center to face Iowa on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. Iowa beat No. 16-ranked Penn State 79-64 on Sunday and is tied for fourth in the Big Ten standings are 4-3.

Smile, You Are On Television -- The Michigan State-Michigan contest is the featured Big Ten Game of the Week on Fox Sports Net Chicago. Jim Barbar provides the play-by-play, while Debbie Antonelli will handle the color commentary. This is MSU's second appearance on Fox Sports Chicago as the Spartans also faced Ohio State (Jan. 4) on FSC.

Road Woes Continue For MSU -- MSU is 3-6 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 six losses, MSU averaged just 48.8 points, 14 points below their season scoring average (62.8 ppg). The Spartans scored a season-low 34 points in the loss at No. 6/6 Purdue. The 34 points was the third lowest-point total in school history. On the other hand, MSU's opponents averaged just 59.8 points in the wins -- only 0.8 points above MSU's opponent season average (59.0). MSU's defense held Purdue to just 57 points -- 18.4 points below their season average. It was also the Boilermakers second-lowest point production of the season.

Can I Have Just One More Board -- Julie Pagel narrowly missed a double-double at Purdue with a 10-point, nine-rebound performance at Purdue. The freshman forward did post her fifth straight game in double figures. In the past five games, Pagel is averaging 12.6 points and 6.8 rebounds.

Why Not Get Defensive -- Julie Pagel continues to lead the Big Ten in defensive rebounds, averaging 6.12 per game. She is third in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.9), behind Iowa's Randi Peterson (8.5 rpg) and Wisconsin's Jessie Stomski (8.3 rpg). Pagel's numbers do not just end on rebounding. She is tied for the team lead in steals (34) and is tied for third with six blocked shots.

Don't Turn The Ball Over -- Guards Donita Johnson and Vnemina Reese both rank in the top 15 in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover margin. Johnson is fourth in assist/turnover ratio at 1.64, while Reese is 14th at 1.16.

On The Home Court -- In MSU's first seven home games, the Spartans are averaging 69.4 points while allowing just 60.0 points. For the season, the Spartans are averaging 65.0 points while giving up 58.3. MSU has held opponents to 63 points or less in each of its five home wins. In addition, MSU is shooting 45.3 percent (195-of-430) from the field at the Breslin Center. However in games away from the Breslin, the Spartans are shooting just 40.8 percent (199-of-488). Overall, MSU is shooting 42.9 percent (394-of-918) from the field.

Spartan Bench -- MSU's bench has been outscored for eight straight games. During this span, the Spartan bench has been outscored by an average of 8.5 points. The last time MSU's bench outscored the opposition was Dec. 10 at Alabama (15-13). MSU's bench mustered only four points (two each by Jennifer Callier and Donita Johnson) in the loss at Purdue.

Free Throw Woes Continue -- MSU shot a season-low 30 percent (3-of-10) from the free throw line at Purdue. The three made are a season low and the 10 attempts are the second lowest total of the year. For the season, MSU is connecting on just 60.4 percent (204-of-338) from the charity stripe. That mark ranks last in the Big Ten statistics. Individually, Maria Recker leads MSU in free throw shooting (.846, 11-of-13) while Christie Pung is second (.750, 21-of-28).

On The Boards -- The Spartans hold a 39.1-to-31.5 advantage on the boards, a difference of +7.6 rebounds per game. That mark leads the Big Ten statistics. MSU held a 37-to-32 edge on the boards at Purdue, including a 14-to-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

Moving Up The Freshman Chart -- Julie Pagel continues to make her mark on MSU's freshman records chart. Pagel is seventh on MSU's freshman records chart with 34 steals, and needs 10 more to move into sixth place. Nicole Cushing (1995-96) is currently sixth with 43 swipes. Pagel's 163 points places her tied for 16th on the freshman scoring chart. With one more point, Pagel would tie current U-M assistant coach Eileen Shea (1987-88, 164) for 15th place on MSU's freshman scoring chart. Pagel also needs three more points to move ahead of current teammate Vnemina Reese (1999-2000, 165) for the 14th spot. In addition, Pagel's 135 boards place her eighth on the freshman rebounding chart. Kristen Rasmussen (1996-97) and Nicole Cushing (1995-96) hold down sixth place with 157 boards.

Moving Up The Career Charts -- Several Spartans are making their marks on MSU's career charts. * Maria Recker and Christie Pung each need two more three-point field goals to move into seventh place on the all-time list. Pernille Dalgaard (1996-99) currently sits in seventh with 33 made threes. * Becky Cummings needs five more points (1,084) to slide into eighth place on MSU's all-time scoring chart. She would move ahead of Bella Engen (1995-98, 1,088), who currently holds down the eighth spot. * Cummings also needs five more rebounds to surpass Lil Preston (1981-83, 640) for ninth place on the all-time rebounding chart. Cummings currently holds down the 10th spot with 636 boards. * Donita Johnson reached the 300-assist plateau vs. Wisconsin. Johnson sits in seventh place on the all-time assists chart with 304. She needs 31 more to surpass Brenda Jezowski (1981-83/85, 339) for sixth place on the all-time list.

Injury Update -- Senior forward Nikki Davis will miss the entire 2000-01 season due to a knee injury suffered during the preseason. Freshman guard Candice Jackson (knee) is out for the season.



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