Women's Basketball Hosts Akron In WNIT First Round Action
Spartans making third postseason appearance in the last four years.
March 10, 1999
East Lansing, MI - For the third time in four seasons, the Michigan State women's basketball team will make a postseason tournament appearance.
The Spartans earned a bid to the 32-team Women's National Invitation Tournament and will face Akron in the first round.
MSU will host the Zips on Thursday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m., at the Breslin Center (15,138).
The victor of Thursday's contest will face the winner of the Michigan-Western Michigan game also to be played on March 11.
The date and location of a second round game will be determined following Thursday's contest.
A representative of the WNIT will be on site for the MSU-Akron matchup and will make the announcement following the contest.
Tickets for Thursday's game go on sale today at the athletic ticket office located in Jenison Field House.
Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for MSU students, senior citizens and youths 18-and-under.
Michigan State ended the regular season with a 15-13 overall record.
The Spartans tied with Michigan for sixth place in the Big Ten with an 8-8 mark.
MSU is 4-3 in its last seven games with one loss coming in overtime to Wisconsin (Feb. 7) and the other a five-point setback to the nations 15th-ranked squad, Penn State, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament (Feb. 27).
Akron closed out its regular season with a 16-12 mark. The Zips, who finished second in the east division with a 10-6 mark, advanced to the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament before falling to eventual champion Toledo, 85-65.
The Zips, who are making their first-ever postseason tournament appearance, are 2-4 in their last six contests.
Michigan State coach Karen Langeland is in her 23rd year of directing the Spartan program. The dean of Big Ten women's coaches has a career record of 355-277, all at MSU.
The Grand Rapids native recorded her 350th career win with a 73-58 victory over Minnesota on Jan. 22.
Langeland has guided the Spartans to 16 winning seasons, three NCAA Tournaments, a Big Ten title (1997) and a WNIT appearance since becoming the third head coach in MSU history.
Akron's Roxanne Allen is in her second year with the Zips and in her 11th campaign in the collegiate ranks.
Allen has a record of 28-30 at Akron and a career coaching mark of 143-121.
MSU's 73-58 victory over Minnesota on Friday, Jan. 22, secured the 350th win in coach Karen Langeland's 23-year career.
Langeland has the second longest tenure in the Big Ten among current men's and women's coaches behind Bob Knight of Indiana (28 years).
The Langeland Milestone Victories
No. 1 W-Western Illinois, 79-67 (12/12/76)
No. 50 W-Wayne State, 63-48 (1/16/79)
No. 100 W-Virginia St., 104-58 (2/21/82)
No. 150 W-Northwestern, 80-72 (2/2/86)
No. 200 W-Michigan, 47-45 (1/27/89)
No. 250 W-Northwestern, 68-66 (2/14/92)
No. 300 W-Northwestern, 94-90 (1/19/96)
No. 350 W-Minnesota, 73-58 (1/22/99)
MSU defeated Akron in the two previous meetings between the two schools.
Thursday's game will be the first contest between the two teams since Jan. 15, 1987 when the Spartans downed the Zips, 91-49.
MSU also captured a 72-65 decision in East Lansing on Dec. 15, 1985.
MSU and Akron had three common opponents in 1998-99, with both teams posting 4-0 records against the trio.
The Zips defeated Indiana, 70-67, in overtime and twice beat Central Michigan, 79-78 and 75-52. Akron also downed Ohio in its only meeting with the Bobcats, 76-63.
The Spartans posted single wins over Central Michigan (73-48) and Ohio (79-67) and had two victories over Indiana (86-69 and 88-69).
HOW THE BIG TEN FARED
A record seven Big Ten teams received postseason tournament bids this year. Four teams, Purdue, Penn State, Illinois and Ohio State are NCAA Tournament-bound, while MSU, Michigan and Wisconsin are in the WNIT.
In WNIT play, the Wolverines will play at Western Michigan, while the Badgers will host Indiana State on March 11.
THE REST OF THE WNIT FIELD
Indiana State (18-10) at Wisconsin (14-13)
Georgetown (18-11) at Siena (21-9)
Michigan (17-11) at Western Michigan (19-9)
Akron (16-12) at Michigan State (15-13)
Creighton (16-13) at Kansas State (15-13)
New Hampshire (19-7) at Arkansas St. (16-13)
Middle Tenn. State (19-10) at Memphis (19-9)
Mississippi (15-12) at Tennessee-Martin (21-9)
Pepperdine (21-8) at New Mexico (22-6) *
Portland (16-12) at Washington (15-13) *
Utah (21-6) at Drake (18-9)
BYU (16-12) at Colorado (14-13)
Northwestern St. (22-6) at Arkansas (15-14) *
Oklahoma (14-13) at Wichita State (16-11) *
Texas-Arlington (17-10) at Baylor (16-13) *
Miami, Fla. (15-13) at Rice (18-11) *
* games played on 3/12/99
IN POSTSEASON PLAY
MSU is making its fourth postseason appearance in program history. The Spartans' previous postseason trips have been to the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, MSU is 2-3 in postseason play with four of the five games being decided in overtime.
YOUNGSTERS SHOW IMPROVEMENT
MSU has totaled four more victories than last season with 15 overall wins this year.
The Spartans, who have just one senior on the squad, finished the Big Ten season with a .500 record and tied with Michigan for sixth place in the league.
Last year, MSU was 11-16 overall and finished ninth in the conference with a 5-11 mark.
The Spartans overcame the loss of their starting point guard (Vnemina Reese) and a reserve forward (Niki Davis) to season-ending knee injuries.
With the loss of Reese, sophomore Donita Johnson moved from her natural two-guard position to the point.
The Clinton Township native has shown tremendous improvement over the course of the season and is averaging 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
In the loss to No. 15 Penn State, Johnson scored a career-high 15 points and had two assists.
SO CLOSE, YET ......
Six of MSU's 13 losses this season have been by six points or less, including three overtime setbacks.
The Spartans are 0-3 in extra session games this year following the 73-68 loss to Wisconsin on Feb. 7.
ANOTHER CHANCE AT 1,000
Junior Kristen Rasmussen will get another opportunity to reach the 1,000-point mark.
Going into the Akron contest, the East Lansing native is just three points shy of becoming the 11th player in Spartan history to score 1,000 points.
Heading into the Penn State game, Rasmussen needed 10 points to reach the scoring milestone, but was held to just seven points.
The 6-4 forward ranks 12th on the all-time scoring chart with 997 points.
ALL-BIG TEN HONORS
Junior guard Maxann Reese earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors from the league coaches, while junior forward Kristen Rasmussen was named Second-Team All-Big Ten.
Reese joins Kisha Kelley (1994-95) and Paula Sanders (1996-97) as the only first-team all-conference honorees in MSU history.
Reese and Rasmussen were named to the Second-Team All-Big Ten squad by the media, while sophomore center Becky Cummings was an honorable mention honoree.
Michigan State is third in the Big Ten in assists per game with a 17.04 average, despite the fact that no Spartan player ranks among the top 10 in the league.
Point guard Donita Johnson leads the team in assists per game with an average of 3.6, while six-four forward Kristen Rasmussen is second with a 3.2 average.
As a team, MSU dished out a season-high 28 assists in the win over Indiana on Feb. 5, led by Johnsons career-high 11.
The Spartans have handed out 20 or more assists in a game nine times this season, including five times in the last seven contests.
FIRST HALF KEY FOR SPARTANS
The Spartans improved to 10-1 on the year when they have a halftime advantage following their Feb. 26 win over Indiana.
MSU has suffered just one setback (Michigan, 76-75 OT) when it went into the intermission with an advantage.
MSU faced a 23-point halftime deficit in its 85-46 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 18, its largest halftime deficit of the season.
Overall, the Spartans have trailed at the half in 16-of-28 games this season and are 4-12 in those contests.
MSU overcame its largest halftime deficit (18) of the year to defeat Iowa on Jan. 29, 81-69.
FIELD GOAL SHOOTING
The Spartans have shot 50 percent or better from the field in four of the last nine games.
Overall, MSU is 7-1 in games in which it hits better than a 50 percent clip from the floor.
The Spartans have twice shot 60 percent or better from the field, including a season-best 62 percent in their 77-74 home win over Wisconsin on Jan. 8.
GET THAT OUTTA HERE
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in blocked shots with a 4.61 per game average, while junior Kristen Rasmussen leads the league and is 24th nationally with a 1.96 per game average.
Rasmussen had three blocks against Northwestern on Feb. 12 to break her own single-season mark of 45 set last year. She has 55 rejections this year and is the MSU all-time leader with 139 career blocks.
Rasmussen had a career high six blocks in the Feb. 26 win over Indiana, including three-straight during one Hoosier possession early in the first half.
Sophomores Erin Skelly (24), Donita Johnson (16) and Becky Cummings (16) also have garnered double-digit blocks this season.
REESE TOPS THREE-POINT MARK
Maxann Reese was 5-of-9 from three-point range against Penn State (Feb. 27) to become MSU's all-time leader in three-point field goals.
Reese improved her career total to 163, surpassing former Spartan Tanya Place's previous record of 159.
The Spartan guard also moved past Place and into the top spot on the MSU single-season chart with 70 triples and 188 three-point field goal attempts.
MORE RECORDS BY REEESE
Maxann Reese scored 25 points against Penn State on Feb. 27 to increase her seasonal point total to 501.
The Highland Park native joins Kisha Kelley as the only players in Spartan history to score 500 points in a season.
Kelley accomplished the feat twice in her career with 529 points as a senior in 1994-95 and 513 in 1993-94.
Reese's scoring average of 17.9 points per game ranks fourth on the seasonal chart, while she is third in field goals (192) and first in field goals attempted (441).
Junior guard Maxann Reese leads the team and is third in the Big Ten with a 17.9 points per game average.
Reese, who was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Dec. 14, has been the team's leading scorer 15 times this season.
She has scored in double figures in 25-of-28 games this year and in a total of 52 during her three-year career. Reese was held to a season-low five points in the loss to No. 2 Purdue (Jan. 31).
Reese averaged 18.5 points per game in Big Ten play to rank third in the league. She led the league in three-pointers per game in league play with a 2.81 average.
Reese has scored 20 or more points 10 times this season, including four times in the last five games.
The Spartan tri-captain poured in a school-record 41 points against Iowa on Jan. 29. She scored 27 against Minnesota (Jan. 22), while she tallied 25 against Penn State (Feb. 27) and Wisconsin (Jan. 8).
Overall, the Highland Park native is contributing 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
Junior Maxann Reese leads the Big Ten and is tied for 27th nationally in three-pointers per game with a 2.50 average.
Reese is the MSU single-season leader in three-point field goals (70) and three-point field goal attempts (188).
The Spartan tri-captain has hit four triples in a game seven times this season, including a 10-of-16 (.625) performance against Iowa on Jan. 29, while she has connected on two or more three-pointers 20 times.
Reese is shooting 37 percent from three-point land, good for fourth in the Big Ten.
Kristen Rasmussen's 432 points rank eighth on the MSU single-season chart, while she stands seventh on the seasonal list with 172 field goals.
The East Lansing native easily topped her own single-season record for blocked shots this season with 55. Rasmussen owns the top three single-season marks for blocks with 55 this season, 45 last year and 39 in 1996-96.
The Spartan tri-captain has 250 rebounds this season, good for ninth on the MSU seasonal chart.
RASMUSSEN DOES IT ALL
Kristen Rasmussen is one of the most versatile big players in the country. The 6-4 forward runs the floor extremely well, can handle the ball, post up or step behind the arc and nail a three-pointer.
Rasmussen ranks among the Big Ten leaders in five different categories.
She is averaging 15.4 points per game to rank eighth in the league and is second in the Big Ten with an 8.9 rebounds per game average.
Rasmussen is also among the conference leaders in field goal percentage (.533/5th), free throw percentage (.794/6th) and blocks per game (1.96/1st).
Against Indiana on Feb. 5, she was 2 assists shy of recording just the second triple-double in Spartan history. The Spartan tri-captain scored 22 points, had 10 rebounds and a career-high eight assists.
Kim Archer is the only player in MSU history to record a triple-double. She scored 16 points, had 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Northwestern on March 8, 1984.
Overall, Rasmussen has scored in double figures in 23-of-28 games this season and in a total of 53 during her career. She has nine double-doubles to her credit in 1998-99 and a total of 20 in her career.
Against Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament (Feb. 26), Rasmussen had 13 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high six blocks in the win over Indiana. For the second time this season she had a double-double by halftime.
In the win over Northwestern on Feb. 12, Rasmussen scored 28 points and pulled down a season-high 17 rebounds. She connected on 13-of-15 shots from the field. The Spartan tri-captain had a double-double at halftime, with 20 points and 12 rebounds. She hit her first nine shots from the field.
Rasmussen has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in 18 games this season and is 7-of-20 (.350) from three-point range.
Rasmussen has played in 84 career games and is averaging 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest.
FREE THROW STREAK GROWS FOR RAS
Junior forward Kristen Rasmussen takes a streak of 21-straight free throws into postseason play.
Earlier this season, Rasmussen connected on 16-straight charity throws before missing.
Rasmussen, who is shooting 79 percent from the charity stripe (6th in the Big Ten), has not missed a free throw since she went 0-1 from the line against Purdue on Jan. 31.
Junior Kristen Rasmussen recorded her ninth double-double of the season with a 13-point, 12-rebound effort against Indiana on Feb. 26. Rasmussen, who is tied for fourth in the Big Ten in double-doubles, has four in the last eight games.
Sophomore Becky Cummings recorded her last double-double (12 pts., 11 reb.) against Northwestern, her seventh of the season. She is tied for eighth in the league in double-doubles.
Rasmussen is second in the Big Ten with an 8.9 boards per game average, while Cummings is 11th with a 7.2 per game average.
Rasmussen has 11 double-digit rebound games this season, while Cummings has eight.
Sophomore guard Donita Johnson also got into the double-double act against Indiana (Feb. 5) with a 13-point, 11-assist performance against the Hoosiers. It was the first double-double of her career.
Sophomore Christie Pung scored 14 of her career-high 18 points in the second half of MSU's win over Indiana on Feb. 26. It was the first double-figure scoring game of her career.
Pung hit 5-of-8 shots from the field and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
The 5-4 point guard also garnered a career-high five rebounds in 22 minutes of action.
Against Penn State (Feb. 27), Pung contributed five points and five assists in 26 minutes of play.
Overall, Pung is averaging 3.4 points and 1.9 assists per game.
"E" COMES UP BIG
Sophomore Erin Skelly had one of the best all-around games of her career against 15th-ranked Penn State on Feb. 27.
With Kristen Rasmussen and Becky Cummings in foul trouble for much of the game, the 6-5 post player garnered 27 minutes of playing time.
She responded with a season-high 12 points and a career-high (tie) seven rebounds. Skelly also tied her career high with four assists and had two blocks in the contest.
Overall, Skelly is averaging 4.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Her 24 blocked shots ranks ninth on the MSU single-season chart, while she stands ninth in the Big Ten with a 0.86 blocks per game average.
With MSU's invitation to the WNIT, the career of forward Pernille Dalgaard, the team's only senior, has been extended.
Dalgaard has started all 28 games for the Spartans this year and is contributing a career high 7.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
The Spartan tri-captain has scored in double figures in 10 games this season, including a season-high 14 points in the win over Northwestern on Jan. 5 and the victory against Southern Illinois on Dec. 12.
In her final regular season home appearance on Feb. 14 against Michigan, the Horsholm, Denmark native scored 10 points and garnered five rebounds.
Dalgaard led the Spartans with 13 points against No. 3 Purdue on Jan. 15 and tied her season high with seven rebounds against Minnesota on Jan. 22.
In the Big Ten Tourney win over Indiana, Dalgaard contributed 10 points, a season-high eight rebounds and five assists.
Sophomore Donita Johnson has shown tremendous improvement at the point guard position.
The 5-10 Johnson, who is a natural two guard, took over the starting point guard duties on Dec. 5 against Illinois State following the season-ending injury to freshman starter Vnemina Reese.
Johnson played a key role in MSU overcoming a 14-point deficit against Penn State on Feb. 27. The Clinton Township native scored 11 of her career-high 15 points in the second half to help the Spartans tie the game late in the contest.
Johnson hit 7-of-10 shots from the field and added a three-pointer. She also contributed two assists, one blocked shot and two steals in 34 minutes of action.
Johnson recorded the first double-double of her career with a 13-point, 11-assist performance in the win over Indiana on Feb. 5.
Her 11 dishes are a career high and is the first double-figure assist performance by a Spartan since Tamika Matlock dished out 12 in a 78-75 win over Illinois on Feb. 16, 1997.
Against the Hoosiers, Johnson also had two blocks and two steals and no turnovers in 38 minutes of action.
She followed that performance with 10 points and seven assists in the loss to Wisconsin on Feb. 7.
Overall, Johnson has scored in double figures five times this season, including 14-point performances against Minnesota (Jan. 22) and Central Michigan (Nov. 15). She contributed a career high 11 rebounds in the victory over Ohio (12/9).
The Clinton Township native is averaging 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
BLUE COLLAR BECKY
Sophomore Becky Cummings has given MSU a solid presence in the middle this season.
What she lacks in size compared to other Big Ten centers, she makes up for with a strong blue collar work ethic.
The 6-3 post player has started all 28 games for the Spartans and is third on the team with an 11.3 points per game average.
She is second on the team and 11th in the Big Ten with a 7.2 boards per game average.
The Walled Lake native, who is shooting 58 percent from the field, went 7-for-7 from the floor and scored 17 points against No. 2 Purdue on Jan. 31.
She has scored in double figures in 21-of-28 games this year and has had double-digit rebounds eight times.
Cummings contributed 18 points and a career-high 13 boards in the win over SMU on Nov. 27 en route to earning MVP honors at the Cotton Bowl Classic.
Freshman Abby Salscheider tied for team scoring honors in the loss to Ohio State on Feb. 18.
The rookie forward tallied 10 points against the Buckeyes for the first double-figure scoring effort of her career.
She also contributed four rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes of action.
Overall, the Bluffton, Ind., native is averaging 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
Michigan State had just 11 turnovers in the win over Indiana on Feb. 5, its second-lowest of the season. The Spartans had just 10 turnovers in their win over Texas A&M on Nov. 28.
The Spartans have committed less than 20 turnovers 19 times this season and are 12-7 in those contests.
On the flip side, MSU has turned the ball over 20 or more times in nine contests this season and is 3-6 in those games. MSU had a season-high 27 turnovers in the loss to Penn State (Jan. 11) and 26 in the setback to Purdue (Jan. 15).
Overall, MSU is averaging 18.0 turnovers per game.
In 16 Big Ten contests, the Spartans averaged 18.6 turnovers per game. In conference play, they were 7-3 when their turnovers were less than 20 and 1-5 when they had 20 or more miscues.
Sophomore Erin Skelly is MSU's leading reserve, averaging 4.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest.
Overall, the Spartan bench has outscored its opponents 11 times and equaled the oppositions output once.
MSU reserves are contributing 12.7 points per game, while its opponents average 16.5 points per contest.
The Spartan bench contributed a season high 31 points in the win over Indiana on Feb. 26, led by Christie Pungs 18-point effort.
In the win over Michigan on Feb. 14, the three reserves who saw action for the Spartans did not score. It was the first time and only time this season the MSU bench did not contribute a point to the Spartan effort.
AT THE BRESLIN CENTER
The Spartans finished the regular season with an 8-5 record at home, the 25th time in 27 seasons of play that they have had a winning record on their home court.
MSU has an all-time record of 210-100 (.677) and a record of 85-42 (.669) in 10 years at the Breslin Center.
Last year, MSU was 5-6 at the Breslin Center, marking just the second time in program history it finished with a losing record at home.