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Women's Basketball Heads To Big Ten Tournament

Feb. 27, 2001


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Tip-Off -- Michigan State (10-17 overall, 4-12 Big Ten), the No. 9 seed for the Big Ten Tournament, faces No. 8 seed Ohio State Thursday (March 1), at 4 p.m., at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. It will be the second meeting of the season between the teams as MSU won the first game -- 62-60 on Jan. 4, 2001 in East Lansing. The winner of the game will face No. 1 seed Purdue on Friday (March 2), at 2:30 p.m.

About Michigan State
Defensively Speaking -- MSU continues to pace the Big Ten in field goal percent defense at 38.9 percent as opponents have connected on 569-of-1462 shots. The Spartans have held opponents to 40 percent and under shooting from the field on 14 occasions this season. MSU held Iowa to just 30.8 (16-of-52) shooting from the field on Feb. 22 and held the Hawkeyes to their second-lowest point total (50) of the season. On Sunday, the Spartans held Minnesota to 34.5 percent shooting (19-of-55) from the field and the Golden Gophers' third-lowest point total of the season (50).

Getting Even More Defensive -- MSU is ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (60.5 ppg). In the last five games, MSU is holding opponents to 54.4 points and just 37.5 field goal percentage (99-of-264). The Spartans have held opponents to 60 points or less on 14 occasions this season. MSU is 7-7 when holding opponents to 60 points or less. On the other hand, the Spartans are 1-15 when scoring under 59 points.

Cummings Out For Season -- Senior forward Becky Cummings will miss the remainder of the season after reinjuring her torn plantar fascia vs. Indiana (Feb. 11). Cummings originally suffered the injury late in the first half of the Dec. 3 Eastern Michigan contest. She missed five games (Dec. 5-20), before returning to action at Indiana (Dec. 31). She played in five games before missing the next three contests (at Purdue, vs. Michigan & at Penn State) after reaggravating her injured foot in practice Jan. 17. She returned to the lineup for four straight games before her latest injury, and has missed the team's last four games. For the season, Cummings is averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 16 games. The Walled Lake, Mich., native has played in 105 career games, averaging 10.6 points and 6.1 rebounds as well as shooting 57.2 percent (392-of-685) from the field.

Thursday's Opponent -- Ohio State (16-10 overall, 6-10 Big Ten)
The Team - Ohio State enters Thursday's game with a 16-10 overall mark, 6-10 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes split a pair of games last week -- beating Northwestern (61-41) on Thursday and falling to Wisconsin (81-62) on Sunday.

Ones To Watch - Courtney Coleman and Jamie Lewis pace the Buckeyes attack. Coleman is averaging 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds, while Lewis is averaging 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. Injuries have decimated OSU this season, as the Bucks lost 1999-2000 Big Ten Freshman of the Year LaToya Turner to an ACL injury on Jan. 4.

All-Time Series -- Ohio State leads the all-time series, 35-14. This will be the fourth meeting between the schools in the Big Ten Tournament with OSU holding a 2-1 advantage. The teams last met in the Big Ten Tournament on Feb. 27, 1998 with the Bucks taking an 83-61 win in Indianapolis.

Last Meeting -- Three Spartans scored in double figures led by Julie Pagel with 17 points as MSU held off Ohio State, 62-60 on Jan. 4 at the Breslin Center. Pagel hit the game-winning basket with 2:03 remaining in the game.

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

Last Week For MSU
MSU Splits A Pair -- Michigan State lost a heart-breaking 50-47 decision at Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night (Feb. 22). The Spartans, who led almost the entire first half, held a 26-20 edge at the half. Iowa took a 35-31 lead to open the second half before three straight points by MSU pulled the Spartans within three (35-34). MSU took a 42-37 lead on an Erin Skelly jumper with 5:42 left. Iowa regained the lead (47-46) on a Randi Peterson layup with 1:39 left. The Spartans had their chances but missed two of their final three free throw attempts in the last minute. MSU's Vnemina Reese, Maria Recker and Donita Johnson fell short on three-point attempts in the closing seconds. MSU was led by Julie Pagel with 11 points, while Iowa was led by Randi Peterson with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
MSU ended the 2000-01 regular season with a 58-50 victory over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon (Feb. 25) at the Breslin Center. MSU jumped out of the gates early, opening the game on a 14-0 run as Erin Skelly and Christie Pung each added six points. The Spartan defense held Minnesota without a field goal until the 14:22 mark when Lindsay Lieser hit a three-point basket. The Spartans would take a 12-point advantage (33-21) into the locker room at the half.
Michigan State would open up an 18-point advantage (51-33) on a three-point play by Jennifer Callier. A 14-2 Minnesota run pulled the Gophers within six (53-47) with 1:10 to go. But MSU would connect on five of its final eight free throw attempts to seal the victory.
Christie Pung led MSU with a season-high 15 points. Minnesota was led by Kim Prince with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

More Spartan Notes
-- The winner of the OSU-MSU game will face No. 1 seed Purdue on Friday (March 2) at 2:30 p.m. Purdue captured the Big Ten regular season crown with a 14-2 mark. The Boilermakers are 24-5 overall.

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.

MSU All-Time In The Big Ten Tournament -- The Spartans are 5-7 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament play. The Spartans have advanced to the semifinals two times -- falling to Ohio State (70-63) in 1995 and Illinois (77-66) in 1997. MSU, who drew the No. 5 seed in the 2000 Tournament, drew a first-round bye and lost to Illinois (72-67) in the quarterfinals.

Season High For Pung -- Christie Pung hit for a season-high 15 points in the win over Minnesota. Pung finished the game 5-of-10 from the field, including a 5-of-9 effort beyond the three-point arc. The five threes were a career best and places her tied for sixth on the single-game chart.

The Emergence of Skelly -- With Becky Cummings out of the lineup, Erin Skelly has stepped up her play the last few games. She finished with nine points on 4-of-5 (.800) shooting and seven rebounds at Iowa. She followed up with an eight point, seven rebound and five block performance against Minnesota. In the last four games, Skelly is averaging 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. For the season, Skelly is averaging 5.3 points and 5.0 rebounds.

It's Raining Threes -- MSU hit 11 three-point field goals vs. Minnesota. The 11 threes are one short of the school record 12, set on two different occasions including earlier this season vs. Chicago State (11/26/2000). The Spartans set a new school record for three-point attempts with 26. It breaks the previous mark of 23, set vs. Northwestern on March 5, 1993.

Statistically Speaking -- MSU is 10th in the Big Ten (overall games) in scoring offense (59.7), eighth in the Big Ten statistics in scoring margin (-0.9) and second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (60.5). However, since Big Ten play has started the Spartans are averaging just 54.6 points while allowing 64.3 points. The 54.6 points rank 10th in Big Ten play only while the 64.3 points allowed is fourth. MSU is ninth in scoring margin (-9.7). (Big Ten statistics as of Feb. 25).

The Streak Is Over -- Sophomore guard Vnemina Reese had her consecutive starts streak snapped at 62 games against Minnesota. Reese, who did not start, finished with 11 points in 24 minutes.

Johnson Hits For A Double-Dip -- Senior guard Donita Johnson posted her fourth game of the season in double figures with 10 points at Iowa. She also added eight rebounds, one block, one steal and one assist in 38 minutes. In the last four games, Johnson is averaging 8.3 points -- 3.2 points above her season average (5.1 ppg).

It's Still A Struggle On Offense -- Since scoring 81 points vs. Central Michigan on Dec. 20, MSU has averaged just 54.6 points since Big Ten play has began. MSU is 4-12 during this span. MSU scored a season-low 34 points at Purdue (Jan. 18). The 34 points are the third-lowest point total in school history. The school record for fewest points is 30, set on Jan. 17, 1976 in a 56-30 loss to Grand Valley State. In addition, MSU scored just 12 first-half points in the loss at Wisconsin (Feb. 4). The 12 points are the fewest in the first half this season and the third-lowest first-half point total in school history. The school record for fewest points scored in a half is 11, set vs. Ohio State (38) on Jan. 23, 1976 and vs. Michigan (29) on Feb. 24, 1989.

Pagel Getting The Job Done (And She's Just A Freshman) -- Julie Pagel currently leads the team and ranks third in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and is tied for the team lead and ranks ninth in the Big Ten in steals (1.9 spg). In addition, she leads the team in scoring (11.2 ppg). The 11.2 points-per-game average is 24th 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 15 games this season, including 12 of the last 15. She finished with 11 points in the loss at Iowa. In Big Ten play only, Pagel leads the team in scoring 12.8 points-per-game and ranks 15th in conference action. In addition, she is averaging 7.2 rebounds -- a mark which places her seventh in conference play.

The Shot Blocker -- Erin Skelly tied her career high with five blocked shots vs. Minnesota. The five blocked shots place her tied for seventh on the single-game list. This season, Skelly leads MSU with 40 blocks, placing fourth in the Big Ten. The 40 blocked shots is fourth on the single-season chart. Kristen Rasmussen (1998-99) holds the single-season record with 57.

The Shot Blocker II -- With two blocked shots at Iowa, senior center Erin Skelly became just the second player in school history to record 100+ blocked shots in a career. Skelly, who has 106 career blocked shots entering this week's play, is second all-time at MSU. Kristen Rasmussen (1997-2000) holds the MSU record with 194.

Callier Off The Bench -- Jennifer Callier added six points and six rebounds in 22 minutes at Iowa. She followed up with five points and six rebounds vs. Minnesota. For the season, Callier is averaging 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds.

The Struggle From The Line -- The Spartans connected on just 53.3 percent (8-of-15) of their shots from the free throw line at Iowa. MSU shot 75.0 percent (3-of-4) from the charity stripe in the first half, but only connected on 5-of-10 (.455) shots in the second half. MSU is connecting on just 59.7 percent (309-of-518) 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 (.824, 14-of-17) while Christie Pung is second (.729, 35-of-48).

Moving Up The Freshman Chart -- Julie Pagel continues to make her mark on MSU's freshman records chart. Pagel's 297 points place her fourth on the freshman scoring chart. She needs three more points to move into third place, surpassing Mary Kay McNall (1982-83, 299). In addition, Pagel's 210 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 52 steals. Kim Archer (1983-84) holds down the fourth position with 54 steals. She is second in free throw attempts (77) behind Kris Emerson (1983-84), who has 89. In addition, Pagel holds the MSU freshman record for free throw attempts (125). Pagel also ranks in the top 10 in field goal percentage, field goals made and field goals attempted.

Moving Up The Career Charts -- Several Spartans are making their marks on MSU's career charts. * Becky Cummings will close her career eighth on MSU's all-time scoring chart with 1,108 points and ninth place on MSU's all-time rebounding chart with 645.
* In addition, Cummings will be remembered as the second most-accurate field goal shooter in school history. She has hit on 57.2 percent (392-of-685) of her shots during her career.
* Donita Johnson sits in seventh place on the all-time assists chart with 330. She needs 10 more to surpass Brenda Jezowski (1981-83/85, 339) for sixth place on the all-time list.
* With five three-point field goals vs. Minnesota, Christie Pung moved into sixth place on MSU's all-time three point-chart with 42.
* Donita Johnson is tied for seventh with Marline Ferguson (1992-92) on the all-time three-point chart with 38.
* Maria Recker is ninth all-time in career three-point field goals with 36. Teammate Donita Johnson is tied for seventh at 38.

Injury Update --Nikki Davis will miss the entire 2000-01 season with a knee injury suffered during the preseason. Candice Jackson is out for the year after suffering a torn ACL vs. Ohio State (Jan. 4). Becky Cummings will miss the remainder of the season after reinjuring her torn plantar fascia on Feb. 11 vs. Indiana.



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