Women's Basketball Closes Regular Season at Iowa and vs. Minnesota
 
 
 
Erin Skelly and the Spartans head to Iowa Thursday and host Minnesota on Sunday.
 
Erin Skelly and the Spartans head to Iowa Thursday and host Minnesota on Sunday.
 
 

Feb. 19, 2001

EAST LANSING, Mich. -

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Tip-Off -- Michigan State (9-16 overall, 3-11 Big Ten) closes out the Big Ten regular season with a pair of games this week. The Spartans travel to Iowa Thursday (Feb. 22) for a 7 p.m. CST tip-off with the Hawkeyes. On Sunday (Feb. 25), MSU closes out the regular season entertaining Minnesota at the Breslin Center. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. EST. Iowa enters Thursday's game with a 15-9 overall mark and 10-4 Big Ten slate. Iowa beat Ohio State 74-59 on Sunday. Minnesota (8-17 overall, 1-13 Big Ten) hosts Wisconsin on Thursday before making the trek to Michigan State on Sunday. The Golden Gophers lost at Purdue 96-43 on Sunday.

About Michigan State
On the Defensive Side
-- MSU continues to pace the Big Ten in field goal percent defense at 39.4 percent as opponents have connected on 534-of-1355 shots. MSU also ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring defense (61.4). The Spartans have held opponents to 60 points or less on 12 occasions this season. MSU is 6-6 when holding opponents to 60 points or less. On the other hand, the Spartans are 0-14 when scoring under 59 points.

Pagel Candidate For Freshman Of The Year Honors -- Julie Pagel continues to make her point for Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. She currently leads the team and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.9 rpg) and is tied for the team lead and ranks eighth in the Big Ten in steals (2.0 spg). In addition, she leads the team in scoring (11.2 ppg). The 11.2 points-per-game average is 25th in the Big Ten. Pagel is one of two freshmen (Illinois' Iveta Marcauskaite the other) to appear in the top 30 in both scoring and rebounding. Pagel has scored in double figures in 14 games this season, including 11 of the last 13. She finished with 18 points in the loss at Illinois. In Big Ten play only, Pagel leads the team in scoring 13.4 points-per-game and ranks 13th in conference action. In addition, she is averaging 7.4 rebounds -- a mark which places her sixth in conference play.

Cummings Out Of The Lineup -- Senior forward Becky Cummings is questionable for this week's action. She has missed two straight games (at Northwestern & Illinois) after reinjuring her foot vs. Indiana (Feb. 11). Cummings missed five games (Dec. 5-20) with a torn plantar fascia in her left foot suffered late in the first half of the Dec. 3 Eastern Michigan contest. She returned to action at Indiana (Dec. 31). She played five games, before sitting out three straight contests (at Purdue, vs. Michigan & at Penn State) after reaggravating her injured foot in practice Jan. 17. Cummings is averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 16 games this year.

This Week's Opponents
Iowa (15-9 overall, 10-4 Big Ten)
The Coach
- Lisa Bluder (Northern Iowa 1983) is one of three rookie coaches in the Big Ten. Iowa (15-9 overall, 10-4 Big Ten) has won seven of its last eight games, including a 74-59 victory over Ohio State on Sunday. The Hawkeyes are tied for second in the Big Ten standings with Penn State and Wisconsin.

Ones To Watch - Four of Iowa's five starters are averaging in double figures, led by Lindsey Meder at 17.4 points-per-game. Randi Peterson (12.3 ppg), Jennie Lillis (11.1 ppg) and Cara Consuegra (10.8 ppg) round out the Hawkeye's in double figures.

All-Time Series -- Iowa leads the all-time series, 24-13. The Spartans are 5-12 all-time in games played in Iowa City.

The Last Meeting -- Behind 18 points and 11 rebounds by Randi Peterson, Iowa beat MSU 71-56 on Feb. 1 at the Breslin Center. The Spartans were led by Julie Pagel with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

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

Minnesota (8-17 overall, 1-13 Big Ten)
The Coach
- Cheryl Littlejohn (Tennessee 1987) is in her fourth season at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have compiled a 8-17 overall mark and a 1-13 Big Ten slate to date. Minnesota faces Wisconsin on Thursday before heading to MSU Sunday.

Ones To Watch - Guard Lindsey Whalen and center Kim Prince pace the Minnesota squad. Whalen is averaging a team-best 17.1 points and 1.7 steals. Meanwhile, Prince is averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds.

All-Time Series -- Michigan State leads the all-time series, 21-13. The Spartans have won seven of the last nine meetings. MSU is 12-4 all-time in games played in East Lansing.

Last Meeting -- MSU handed Minnesota a 66-65 defeat in Minneapolis on Jan. 7. Julie Pagel had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Spartans.

Coach P vs. MINN -- MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie is 1-0 vs. Minnesota.

Last Week's Action
MSU Splits A Pair of Games
-- Michigan State snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 77-68 victory over Northwestern on Feb. 15 at the Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. The Spartans came out firing in the second half, going on a 10-0 run in the first 6:08 and holding Northwestern without a basket the first 10:46 of the second half. Free throws were the difference in the game as Michigan State connected on 26-of-35 free throw attempts, with the team's final 23 points coming from the line to seal the victory. Four Spartans scored in double figures led by Vnemina Reese with 22 points, while Julie Pagel added 16. Emily Butler led Northwestern with 26 points. Michigan State came within two points of upsetting Illinois before falling 52-50 on Feb. 18 at Assembly Hall. The first half was a seesaw affair with both teams shooting over 40 percent from the floor. MSU opened up a six-point advantage (23-17) on a jumper by Julie Pagel with 4:52 to go. Illinois would go on a 7-0 run to take a 24-23 before MSU's Jennifer Callier answered with a jumper as the Spartans regained the one-point advantage (25-24). After an Illinois bucket, MSU's Jennifer Callier added her second straight basket to help the Spartans take a 27-26 lead into the locker room at the half. The Spartans opened up the second half with an eight-point lead (40-32) on a jumper by Erin Skelly with 12:20 remaining in the game. With 6:57 to go in the game, the Spartans held a 44-36 lead, but l0 straight points by the Fighting Illini gave Illinois a two-point lead (46-44) with 4:31 remaining. The Spartans would get tough and regain a two-point advantage (48-46) on back-to-back baskets by Julie Pagel. However, six straight free throws by Illinois gave the Fighting Illini a four-point lead (52-48) with just 24 seconds remaining. Donita Johnson scored MSU's final basket with just eight seconds remaining as the Spartans comeback rally fell just short. Julie Pagel led Michigan State with 18 points and nine rebounds. The Fighting Illini's Allison Curtin led all scorers with 25 points.

More Spartan Notes
Upcoming
-- The Spartans head to the Big Ten Tournament March 1-4 in Grand Rapids. On Thursday (March 1), the first game will feature No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed at 4 p.m., the second game has the No. 7 seed vs. the No. 10 seed at 6 p.m., and the third game features the No. 6 seed vs. the No. 11 seed at 8 p.m.

Tickets For Big Ten Tournament -- Tickets are now on sale for the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament which will be held in Grand Rapids, Mich., March 1-4. All-sessions tickets are $45 and provide admission for the five-session, 10-game tournament. Tickets can be purchased through the MSU Ticket Office by calling: 1-800-GO-STATE.

Senior Day Activities -- MSU will honor five seniors following Sunday's game (Feb. 25) with Minnesota as Becky Cummings, Nikki Davis, Donita Johnson, Christie Pung and Erin Skelly will be honored in the post-game ceremony.

So Close -- Julie Pagel narrowly missed a double-double with an 18-point, nine-rebound effort at Illinois. It is the fourth time this season that she has been one rebound or one point shy of a double-double. For the season, Pagel has three double-doubles.

Reese Has Strong Night -- Vnemina Reese narrowly missed her career best with a 22-point performance in the win over Northwestern. Reese's career best is 23 points, set against Michigan (1/25/01). Reese was 6-of-14 (.429) from the field, including a 2-for-5 (.400) effort from the three-point line. Reese, who was shooting just 61.3 percent (38-of-62) from the free throw line entering the game, finished 8-of-10 (.800) from the charity stripe. For the season, Reese is averaging 10.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 25 games.

Stepping Up Her Play -- Since moving into the starting rotation against Illinois (Jan. 14), Christie Pung has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.8. She has 34 assists against just 19 turnovers in the past 10 games. In the first 15 games, Pung totaled 21 assists and 17 turnovers. In the win over Northwestern, Pung finished with seven assists and just one turnover in 30 minutes.

From The Stripe -- MSU shot 74.3 percent (26-of-35) from the free throw line against Northwestern. It was MSU's second-best percentage of the season. The Spartans' final 23 points came via the charity stripe. Individually, Vnemina Reese was 8-of-10 (.800) from the line while Christie Pung was 9-of-12 (.750).

Breaking Through On Offense -- MSU scored 77 points in the win over Northwestern, marking the first time since Dec. 20 that the Spartans have scored over 70 points. The 77 points are MSU's third-highest total of the season, behind the 101 points vs. Chicago State (Nov. 26) and the 81 points vs. Central Michigan (Dec. 20).

Rebound The Ball -- The Spartans continue to pace the Big Ten in rebound margin at +5.8. MSU holds a 38.2-to-32.4 edge on the boards. MSU has outrebounded its opponent in 20 of the 25 games this season, including a 33-to-25 advantage on the glass at Illinois.

Block That Shot -- Senior center Erin Skelly needs one more block shot to reach 100 for her career. She currently sits in second place all-time at MSU with 99 blocked shots, and would become just the second player in school history to record 100. Kristen Rasmussen (1997-2000) holds the MSU record with 194. This season, Skelly leads MSU with 33 blocks, placing fourth in the Big Ten. The 33 blocked shots rank tied for sixth on the single-season chart. Incidentally, Skelly swatted away 33 in 1999-2000.

From The Free Throw Line -- MSU is connecting on just 59.8 percent (292-of-488) of its attempts from the charity stripe for the season. That mark ranks last in the Big Ten statistics. Individually, Maria Recker leads MSU in free throw shooting (.800, 12-of-15) while Christie Pung is second (.745, 35-of-47).

Moving Up The Freshman Chart -- Julie Pagel continues to make her mark on MSU's freshman records chart. Pagel's 280 points place her fourth on the freshman scoring chart. She needs 20 more points to move into third place, surpassing Mary Kay McNall (1982-83, 299). In addition, Pagel's 198 boards place her fourth on the freshman rebounding chart. Kim Archer (1983-84) is third with 240 boards. Pagel is fifth on MSU's freshman records chart with 49 steals. Kim Archer (1983-84) holds down the fourth position with 54 steals. Pagel also ranks in the top 10 in field goal percentage, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted.