MSU Set To Battle No. 1 Seed Texas Tuesday Night

March 22, 2004

NCAA Tournament Notes in PDF Format
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No. 8 seed Michigan State Spartans (22-8)
vs. No. 1 seed Texas Longhorns (29-4)
Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 8:30 p.m. CT (9:30 p.m. ET)
Austin, Texas - Frank Erwin Center (16,837)
The Fan 730 AM (Michael Sinnott - play-by-play)
ESPN2 (Ron Franklin - pbp; Ann Myers - color)
MSU: Joanne P. McCallie (Northwestern, 1987)
Overall: 235-124 (12th season); MSU: 68-51 (Fourth season)
Texas: Jody Conradt (Baylor, 1963)
Overall: 846-268 (35th season); UT: 729-206 (28th season)

Opening Tip
No. 8 seed Michigan State takes on top-seeded Texas at 8:30 p.m. Central time (9:30 p.m. Eastern) at the 2004 West Region Second Round at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. The winner of the game advances to the West Regional in Seattle, Wash., to play either No. 4 seed LSU or No. 12 seed Maryland Saturday, March 27.

NCAA Tournament Quick Hitters
* Michigan State is making its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance and second straight (previous trips in 1991, 1996, 1997, 2003)
* Michigan State is 3-4 in its NCAA Tournament history and will be looking to advance past the second round for the first time ever (0-2 in second round games)
* Michigan State has never beaten a team seeded higher than eighth in the tournament
* Four of MSU's seven previous NCAA Tournament games have gone into overtime
* This is the third time in MSU's five trips, and the third straight, that the Spartans have been a No. 8 seed
* Michigan State has played half of its games this year against teams that are competing in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, playing 15 times in 30 games against tourney teams. The Spartans have posted an 8-7 record against teams in this year's tournament (1-0 vs. Minnesota, Notre Dame, Temple, Eastern Michigan, UCLA and Arizona; 1-1 vs. Ohio State and Iowa; 0-2 vs. Purdue; 0-3 vs. Penn State)
* For a list of MSU's past NCAA Tournament results and box scores, refer to page 12

Scouting Texas
Texas is 29-4 overall and shared the Big 12 regular season title with a 14-2 league record, although the Longhorns fell in the Big 12 Tournament championship game to Oklahoma, 66-47. Texas advanced to the second round with an easy 92-57 victory over Southern in Sunday's first round.

Texas features 6-3 forward Tiffany Jackson, who was named the national Freshman of the Year by and averages 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. But Jackson has plenty of help, as junior forward Heather Schreiber adds 12.6 points and 5.9 rebounds, senior forward/center Stacy Stephens adds 11.8 points and 8.1 boards and sophomore guard Nina Norman chips in 10.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Schrieber and Stephens were both named finalists for the 2004 Kodak/WBCA All-America team and were on the preseason watch list for the Wade Trophy, as was junior guard Jamie Carey, who averages 10.2 points and 2.8 assists.

Common Opponents
Texas and MSU both played UCLA, with Texas earning an 89-58 home victory Nov. 25 while MSU claimed a 47-43 win at UCLA Dec. 19. The Longhorns also played at Penn State, falling 79 -59, while MSU lost at Penn State, 64-62, and fell to the Lady Lions at home (63-51) and again at the Big Ten Tournament (58-54). MSU and UT also both played Oklahoma State, with the Spartans suffering a 62-60 setback on the road, while Texas earned 67-45 and 75-52 wins.

Series Records
Michigan State has split two games with Texas, losing 82-72 at home to the then-No. 21 Longhorns Nov. 23, 1996, before bouncing back for an 80-78 overtime win in Austin Nov. 29, 1997.

Streak Busters
Texas has the nation's longest home-court winning streak, which currently stands at 35 games, but Michigan State has snapped two long home-court winning streaks already this season. On Jan. 15, MSU snapped then-No. 22 Ohio State's 24-game home court winning streak with a 55-47 victory in Columbus. Two weeks later on Jan. 25, the Spartans ended then-No. 9 Minnesota's 19-game home court winning streak with a 72-69 victory. The Gophers had not lost at home since MSU's last appearance in Williams Arena two seasons ago, winning 19 straight games in the process. In fact, since returning to Williams arena in 2001, Minnesota is 0-2 against MSU at home and 26-1 against everyone else.

Bring It On
Michigan State will look forward to playing in front of a big crowd in Austin. Texas ranks 10th in the nation averaging 7,049 fans per game, but MSU has played well on the road in front of big crowds. MSU won at No. 9 Minnesota, 72-69, in front of 13,638 fans, and played well in close losses at Purdue (59-56) in front of 9,980 fans and at Penn State (64-62) in front of 8,720 fans.

NCAA Tournament First Round: Spartans Top Arizona, 72-60
Lindsay Bowen scored 18 points and Michigan State used a strong defensive effort to beat Arizona 72-60 Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Michigan State, the eighth seed in the West Regional, advances to the second round Tuesday against top-seeded Texas, which beat Southern, 92-57.

Liz Shimek grabbed 13 rebounds and had 16 points for the Spartans, scoring eight over the final six minutes to help hold off Arizona's late rally. Kristin Haynie added 12 points.

Center Shawntinice Polk scored 23 points for Arizona (24-9), which otherwise struggled against the Spartans' tough matchup zone defense. Michigan State won the rebounding battle 41-31 and forced 18 Wildcats turnovers.

Bowen scored 10 in the first half and the Spartans threatened to take control early with a 31-20 lead on Haynie's jumper in the lane with 3:38 left. But the Wildcats closed the deficit to four with a 7-0 run sparked by three straight steals.

The second half played much like the first. The Spartans would start to build a comfortable lead only to see the Wildcats fight back within striking distance.

But Arizona couldn't grab the lead with an offense that found little success outside of Polk's dominating presence in the middle. Polk shot 9-of-15 from the field but accounted for nearly half of Arizona's 21 total field goals.

Michigan State led by as much as 12 in the second and the Spartans were up 57-49 before Arizona closed it to 59-56. Polk scored five straight points in a 7-0 run.

But Bowen ended the rally by hitting a runner in the lane and Shimek followed it with a layup. Shimek went 4-for-4 from the free throw line over the final two minutes as Michigan State pulled away.

Five Alive
For just the second time this season, MSU had five players score in double figures in the first round victory over Arizona. Lindsay Bowen had a team-high 18 points, followed by Liz Shimek (16), Kristin Haynie (12), Rene Haynes (10) and Kelli Roehrig (10). The same five players also all reached double figures during a 72-69 win Jan. 25 at Minnesota, with Bowen again scoring 18, followed by Roehrig (13), Shimek (11), Haynes (10) and Haynie (10). The Minnesota game marked the first time five MSU players had scored in double figures since Feb. 24, 2003 vs. Illinois.

Twenty-two Down, More To Come?
Michigan State is enjoying just the fifth 20-win season in school history, and needs one more win to equal the most wins in a season in MSU history. The record for wins in a season is 23 in 1976-77 (23-6). MSU finished 22-8 in 1996-97, 21-7 in 1977-78 and 21-8 in 1990-91.

The Road Less Traveled ...
...should probably be traveled more often. MSU has had more success on the road this season than any in its history. The Spartans won their sixth Big Ten road game and 10th road game overall in the regular season finale at Indiana - two marks which had never before been reached in MSU history. MSU is 10-3 on the road this season, and the three losses have come by a total of just seven points. MSU has also snapped Ohio State's 24-game home winning streak and Minnesota's 19-game home winning streak.

Road Warriors
Michigan State continues to pile up impressive road statistics, as its 10 road wins are one more than the previous record of nine road wins that the 1990-91 Spartans had en route to a 21-8 record. Also, prior to this season, MSU had not won four straight road games since the 1990-91 season. MSU has accomplished the feat twice this season, including a five-game road winning streak - something MSU had not accomplished since 1974. In addition, MSU had not won four straight road games with no home games in between since the 1977-78 season - a feat MSU accomplished Dec. 6-19 of this season.

Four Earn All-Conference Honors
Four members of the Michigan State squad were named to All-Big Ten teams that were released by the conference office March 2. Lindsay Bowen was named second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches, who also named Liz Shimek to the third team. Kristin Haynie was named honorable mention by both the coaches and the media, who also selected Bowen and Shimek to their honorable mention squad. In addition, Rene Haynes was named to the coaches' All-Freshman Team.

Turning Up The Heat On Defense
As usual, Michigan State is one of the Big Ten's top defensive teams. MSU leads the Big Ten and ranks 11th nationally in scoring defense (55.3 points per game), and also leads the league in field goal percentage defense (.375). With more healthy bodies available and with increased athleticism, the Spartans are turning up the pressure on defense. More full-court pressure and trapping from the Spartans has resulted in a Big Ten best 9.8 steals per game and 140 fast-break points.

Last season, the Spartans ranked second in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 60.7 points per game. MSU was also third in field goal percentage defense (.402).

Boarding School
The Spartans have outrebounded 23 of their 30 opponents this season and rank second in the Big Ten with a +5.6 average rebounding margin. MSU, which ranks 32nd nationally in rebound margin, outrebounded Notre Dame, 40-20, and did not allow an offensive rebound in the first half. The Spartans had a 50-24 edge on the boards at Toledo. Last year, MSU ranked 11th nationally with an average rebounding margin of +7.7.

Handle With Care
Michigan State has done an excellent job of taking care of the ball in recent games. After averaging 16.8 turnovers per game over the first 17 games of the season, MSU has averaged just 13.5 turnovers per game with a +3.6 turnover ratio in the last 13 contests, including a season-low nine turnovers vs. Iowa Feb. 1. Feb. 12 at Michigan, MSU had 14 miscues in the first half, but then played the entire second half without committing a single turnover.

Shooting Records Within Reach
Three offensive team records are within reach for MSU this season. The Spartans have sank 150 three-point baskets as a team this season, which is just four treys short of the MSU single-season record of 154 set last season (although it took last year's team only 388 attempts to set the record). MSU's 424 attempts are just four shy of the school record set in 2001-02. Also, MSU's 405 free throws are just 22 short of the record of 427 set in 1995-96, although the Spartans' 529 attempts are still 123 shy of the record for free throws attempted (652).

Defense On Display
Michigan State's defense has allowed over 70 points just three times this season, and has held 11 teams under 50 points, which is the most sub-50 games in a single season since the 1973-74 team held 14 of its 17 opponents below 50 points. The 1973-74 team was just MSU's second varsity squad, and the average score of the Spartans' games that season was 52.4-38.4. MSU is 17-0 when holding opponents below 58 points this season.

Bench Production
Michigan State's bench has outscored the opponent's bench in 20 of 30 games, including a 28-1 edge at Dec. 6 at Kent State. Michigan State's bench has been responsible for 498 of MSU's 1949 points this season (25.6 percent).

Queen Of Steals, And She Passes Well, Too
Kristin Haynie, who became MSU's career steals leader during the Big Ten Tournament, had three steals vs. Arizona to extend her school record to 228. Meanwhile, Haynie had five assists vs. Arizona to move from sixth into a tie for fourth on MSU's career assists chart with 382. By doing so, Haynie became the only player in MSU history to rank in the top five in both assists and steals.

A Second Chance
The Spartans have outscored 17 of their 30 opponents in second-chance points this season, including a 19-12 edge over Arizona, and for the year have an advantage of 410-290, including a 25-2 edge at Toledo Dec. 13 and a 23-5 margin over Iowa at the Big Ten Tournament.

A Class Act
Despite having four returning starters from last season, MSU is still a young team, with five freshmen and two sophomores among the 12 players on the roster. And the youngsters are contributing heavily, as MSU gets almost two-thirds of its points and rebounds from its two youngest classes, with the sophomores holding an edge in scoring and rebounding in both categories. A look at MSU's production from the four classes so far this season:

                Points          Rebounds
Seniors         174 (8.9%)      120 (12.0%)
Juniors         544 (27.9%)     261 (26.0%)
Sophomores      726 (37.2%)     323 (32.2%)
Freshmen        505 (25.9%)     298 (29.7%)

Useless Stat of the Game
This is the third consecutive season Michigan State has played a game on March 23, which is tied for the second latest date on which MSU has ever played. Last year, MSU's NCAA Tournament first round loss to TCU came on March 23, and the Spartans lost in the WNIT Final Four at Oregon March 23, 2002. The latest date that has ever had an MSU game was March 24, when the Spartans ended their run at the 1977 AIAW Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., with a 63-62 loss to Utah.

Rank You Very Much
For the first time in seven seasons, Michigan State is in the Top 25. The Spartans jumped into the Dec. 1 Associated Press Top 25 poll, checking in at No. 24, and are 23rd this week. MSU entered the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time Dec. 30, at No. 22, and are 24th in that poll. The Dec. 1 ranking was the first time that MSU had earned a national ranking since the final poll of the 1996-97 season when MSU was ranked No. 21 in the and No. 24 in the AP poll. MSU's No. 15 ranking in the Feb. 10 coaches poll was its highest ever ranking, surpassing the No. 17 ranking from the final AP poll of the 1977 season.

The More The Merrier
Last season, injuries took their toll on MSU's depth, and as a result, the remaining players were forced to play a large chunk of minutes. This season, added depth has resulted in every returning player getting more rest. A look at the minutes-per-game averages of MSU's key returning players:

                This season     Last Season
Lindsay Bowen       33.9            37.4
Kristin Haynie    31.2          34.4
Liz Shimek      31.1            33.1
Julie Pagel       21.2            24.4
Kelli Roehrig     20.1            23.8

Balancing Act
Much of MSU's success this season can be attributed to the Spartans' balance. When Patrice McKinney scored a career-best 10 points and Kelli Roehrig poured in a game-high 19 points Feb. 5 vs. Wisconsin, it improved MSU's numbers to eight players who have scored in double figures this season and six different players who have led the team in scoring.

Also, five players average at least 8.2 points and nine players are averaging at least 7.7 minutes per game. And it's not just the scoring that's balanced, as eight different players have held or shared the team lead in rebounding, steals and blocks, and five players in assists.

If You Build It, They Will Come
Head coach Joanne P. McCallie is building a strong program at Michigan State, and the fans are responding by coming out in droves. MSU ranks 17th nationally as of March 8, averaging a school-record 5,312 fans. The Spartans had eight of the top 25 crowds in school history this year, including a season-high 7,923 for the Michigan game Jan. 18. Last year MSU averaged 5,211 fans.

Youth Is Served
Although MSU has a much more experienced squad this season, it is still a young team consisting largely of freshmen and sophomores. In fact, research completed by Sara Day of Loyola College indicated that at the time of the survey in September, Michigan State was tied for the eighth youngest team in the country with an average age of 19.2 years.

Free (Throws) Falling
Free throws continue to be a key to MSU's success, as the Spartans are once again one of the top free throw shooting teams in the country. MSU has made 72 more free throws than its opponents (in just 53 more attempts) while sinking 76.6 percent from the line, which ranks 10th nationally. Of the eight Spartans with 20 or more attempts, seven are shooting at least 72.1 percent, including three above 80 percent (Victoria Lucas-Perry - 88.5; Lindsay Bowen - 85.9; Kristin Haynie - 83.8). The Spartans made their free throws at a .783 rate last season, which was fifth best in the nation.

What's Up With That?
Speaking of free throws, last year Lindsay Bowen started her college career by making her first 37 free throws before a miss. This season, she missed her very first attempt. Bowen has actually already missed more than four times as many free throws this season (13 - 79-of-92) as she did her entire freshman season (three - 63-of-66), but is still shooting 85.9 percent from the stripe, which ranks third in the Big Ten. Bowen, who made 20 straight free throws earlier this season, has also done a better job of getting to the line more often as she has already attempted 26 more free throws than season than she did all of last season.

Comeback Kids
Michigan State's five straight road wins prior to a Feb. 22 loss at Purdue were even more impressive when one considers that the Spartans trailed at halftime in each of the last four games during the streak (at Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan) before rallying to win late. In fact, MSU trailed within the last three-plus minutes in all four games before making the plays down the stretch to win.

Threes Company
MSU has shown that it has several players who can hit from downtown as three times this season (Nov. 23 vs. Temple, Jan. 8 vs. Purdue and Feb. 5 vs. Wisconsin) MSU has had five different players sink at least one three-point basket. Previously, the last time MSU had five different players make at least one three-point basket in a game was March 19, 2002, in a 79-61 win in the quarterfinals of the WNIT against Alabama. Seven MSU players have made at least one three-pointer this season, and six of them have made at least nine triples.

In addition, MSU has made at least one three-point basket in 66 consecutive games as a team, thanks largely to sophomore Lindsay Bowen, who has made at least one triple in 55 of her 59 career games. Bowen was 0-of-5 from downtown Dec. 6 at Kent State, stopping a string of 31 straight games with at least one made three-point basket.

Sharp Shooters
When one thinks of MSU's three-point shooting, one typically thinks of Lindsay Bowen, who already ranks fourth on MSU's career three-point baskets list (142) as a sophomore. Three other Michigan State guards have also made at least 13 three-pointers each this season. However, MSU's top two long-range gunners in terms of percentage are two players who do most of their work inside. Liz Shimek, who ranks third in the Big Ten averaging 8.2 rebounds per game, sank all three of her three-point attempts Jan. 8 vs. Purdue, and is currently 17-of-44 this season (38.6 percent). Forward Julie Pagel, MSU's fourth-leading rebounder (4.0), has made two treys in three different games and is 9-of-19 (.474) this season after making just seven threes in her first three seasons at MSU.

That 70s Show
Michigan State has been accomplishing a lot of things this season that haven't been done at MSU since the 1970s. The Spartans raced to their best start (10-1) since the 1973-74 season, have held seven or more teams (currently 11) below 50 points for the first time since 1973-74, had a five-game road winning streak for the first time since the 1973-74 season, beat Michigan by the widest margin (34 points) since 1974, had the best record after 23 games (19-4) since the 1976-77 season and held a team to the fewest points allowed (33 - Michigan) since 1979.

Roehrig's Revival
After a slow start this season, Kelli Roehrig has returned to the form that made her an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last season. After averaging just 6.0 points and 3.0 rebounds while shooting .449 from the field in her first 14 games, Roehrig is averaging 11.2 points and 5.1 boards while shooting 62.7 percent (74-of-118) from the field during her last 16 games.

Pagel Power
Michigan State's Julie Pagel has moved into a select group of Spartans. Pagel is now 19th in MSU history in scoring with 952 points, eighth with 662 career rebounds and ninth with 185 career steals. Pagel is one of just three players in MSU history to rank in the school's top 20 in scoring and top ten in rebounds and steals, joining Kisha Kelley and Paula Sanders.

Overtime Overdrive
Michigan State is 2-0 in overtime games this season, and has outscored its opponents 23-4 in the extra period (14-4 vs. Northwestern; 9-0 vs. Indiana). MSU entered this year having lost its last nine consecutive overtime contests, including three double overtime games. MSU had not won in overtime since an 80-78 victory at Texas Nov. 29, 1997. However, the Spartans had not played an overtime game since a 2002 Big Ten Tournament double overtime loss to Ohio State, meaning that only four of the 12 players on the current roster (Julie Pagel, Candice Jackson, Kristin Haynie and Kelli Roehrig) had taken part in an overtime game at MSU.

State Domination
Michigan State continued its recent trend of dominating the instate competition Feb. 12 vs. Michigan with a 59-54 win. The Spartans have now won eight straight games against teams from the state of Michigan dating back to 2002, with seven of the eight having been decided by at least 11 points. MSU is 4-0 this season against Michigan schools, defeating Michigan twice and Eastern Michigan and Detroit once each, and also went 4-0 against instate schools last season, defeating Michigan twice and Oakland and Detroit once each. MSU's last loss to an instate school was a 68-45 loss at Michigan Jan. 2, 2002.

Streaking Spartans
Michigan State had a six-game winning streak for the second time this season prior to the loss to Iowa Feb. 1. The last time MSU won six or more games in a row twice in the same season was during the 1996-97 Big Ten Championship season when the Spartans had streaks of six and seven games en route to a 22-8 overall record and 12-4 league mark. Also, with a four-game winning streak in the books to start the season, this is the first time MSU had three winning streaks of four or more games in one season since the 1990-91 season, when MSU finished 21-8 overall and 13-5 (tied for second) in the Big Ten.

Beating The Best
Michigan State's victory over then-No. 9 Minnesota Jan. 25 was fourth-year head coach Joanne P. McCallie's ninth victory over a nationally-ranked squad since taking over at MSU, and third in eight tries this season. Last year, MSU had a 3-4 record in games against ranked opponents, with victories over No. 7/6 Purdue (67-62), No. 10/10 Minnesota (74-71) and No. 22/24 Ohio State (65-64). The Spartans also had three wins against ranked teams in 2001-02. The most victories MSU has ever had over ranked opponents in a season was five during the 1996-97 Big Ten Championship campaign and during the 1990-91 season.

One For The Books
Michigan State's victory at Jan. 25 at Minnesota marked the first time MSU has ever beaten a Top Ten team on the road. Michigan State had earned nine previous victories over Top Ten teams, including two last season, but all nine were at home. The highest-ranked team MSU had ever beaten in a road game was No. 15/13 Wisconsin, which fell to MSU, 58-57, Jan. 30, 2002. The highest-ranked team MSU has beaten in any game was a 71-63 win over No. 4/4 Penn State Jan. 23, 2000 in the Breslin Center.

Did We Play Hobbs Back Then, Too?
Michigan State held Michigan to 22.2 percent field goal shooting and just 33 points Jan. 18 during a 67-33 Spartan victory. The 33 points was the fewest allowed in a game by MSU since a 66-33 victory over Calvin Feb. 20, 1979.

Rebounding Rarity
Kristin Haynie, Kelli Roehrig and Liz Shimek helped MSU accomplish a rare feat Jan. 15 at Ohio State. All three players had double-digit rebounds, with Haynie and Roehrig grabbing 12 each and Shimek collecting 10. The last time three players from either team had double-figure rebounds in a Michigan State game was March 11, 1999, when Pernille Dalgaard, Kristen Rasmussen and Becky Cummings each had 10 rebounds during a 76-65 victory over Akron in a WNIT opening round game.

100 And Counting
The Jan. 2 game vs. Indiana was Joanne P. McCallie's 100th game as the Spartans' head coach. McCallie, who is 235-124 overall in her 12th season as a head coach and 68-51 at MSU, was 56-44 during her first 100 games. Ironically, the opposing coach that night, Indiana's Kathi Bennett, had an almost identical record with the Hoosiers. Bennett entered the game with a 57-44 record in 101 games as the Hoosiers' coach, and was also 56-44 in her first 100 games with Indiana.

Four Score And 30 Years Ago
MSU's 59-41 win over Indiana Jan. 2 gave the Spartans a 10-1 record - something that had not happened at Michigan State since MSU's second varsity squad started 12-1 during the 1973-74 season (which was played entirely in 1974). The 1973-74 team did it without leaving the state of Michigan, with all 13 games during the streak being played against instate schools.

The victory over the Hoosiers was also MSU's sixth-straight win. The last time MSU had won six or more games in a row was when the 1999-2000 team won their first seven games to start the season.

On The Rebound
Liz Shimek posted a career-best 19 rebounds in MSU's 71-55 victory at Pepperdine Dec. 17, becoming one of just eight players in MSU history to record 19 or more rebounds in a game. The 19 rebounds was tied for the ninth-best single-game rebounding total in Spartan history, and was the most for any Spartan since Kristin Rasmussen grabbed 20 boards vs. Penn State Dec. 30, 1997. Shimek surpassed her previous career high of 16 rebounds, which she had accomplished twice previously. She followed that performance with another double-double, totalling 14 points and 11 boards two nights later at UCLA.

Jackson Back In Action
Redshirt junior Candice Jackson made her return to the court for the first time since Nov. 24, 2002, during the Dec. 13 victory at Toledo. Jackson, who scored the Spartans' last bucket of the game, has suffered three knee injuries in four seasons. Jackson suffered a partial tear in her right knee ligament just prior to the start of practice, forcing her to miss the first six games. Jackson missed the final 15 games of her freshman season (2000-01) after tearing her left ACL, and redshirted last year after tearing the ACL again during the second game of the season. Prior to the Toledo game, Jackson had missed more games due to injury during her career (48) than she had played (47).

Look Who's Back
For the second straight season, Theresa Pusateri joined the Spartan squad in mid-season after completing the field hockey season. Last season, Pusateri joined the MSU squad as a walk-on after a series of injuries left MSU with only eight available players. This season, after completing her senior season on the field hockey team and taking some time off over the holidays, Pusateri was back on the bench for the first time during the Cincinnati game Dec. 29.

Winning The Big Ten Opener
Winning the Big Ten opener vs. Indiana Jan. 2 was a step in the right direction for Michigan State, which had lost six straight league openers. MSU is now 9-14 all-time in Big Ten openers, including a 7-5 record when the opener is at home.

Fantastic Facts
There were several noteworthy achievements during MSU's 92-63 victory over then-No. 17/20 Notre Dame Nov. 26, including:
* It was the second-largest margin of victory ever for MSU over a nationally-ranked team, trailing only an 82-52 victory over No. 7/7 Vanderbilt Jan. 15, 1997.
* The 92 points scored by MSU were the most by the Spartans since a 101-52 victory over Chicago State Nov. 26, 2000, and the third most points ever scored by MSU against a ranked team.
* The 92 points was the most given up by Notre Dame since a 96-75 loss to Connecticut in the 1999 Big East tournament.
* MSU handed Notre Dame its worst regular-season loss since a 105-70 setback to No. 1 Tennessee Jan. 7, 1994.
* Other than Tennessee, no team had beaten Notre Dame by 29 points in the regular season since Purdue defeated the Irish by 33 (74-41) Dec. 4, 1992. In 18 tries, Connecticut has never beaten Notre Dame by as many as 29 points.

Tournament Tidbits
Julie Pagel was named MVP of the Dean Trailways of Michigan Spartan Classic after averaging 11.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and shooting .571 in two games, while Rene Haynes and Liz Shimek were also named to the All-Tournament team. Haynes averaged a team-best 15.0 points, while Shimek added 12.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. MSU is now 25-7 all-time in the Spartan Classic and has won nine of the 16 tournament titles.

Fresh Faces
For the second consecutive year, a freshman led MSU in scoring in its season opener. Rene Haynes poured in 19 points to lead MSU to a 74-68 victory over Davidson Nov. 22, sinking seven-of-12 shots. Last season, Lindsay Bowen scored 26 points in her debut vs. Fresno State. Bowen went on to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

MSU's five freshmen combined to average 27.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in MSU's two victories in the Spartan Classic.

Our New Favorite Magazine
Michigan State was ranked No. 16 in the nation according to the Athlon Sports college basketball preseason magazine. The Spartans were the third-highest ranked Big Ten team of the five conference schools to make the list, joining No. 6 Penn State, No. 11 Purdue, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 21 Minnesota.

Playing The Best
Michigan State will likely play at least eight games this season against nationally-ranked teams. The Spartans have already played games against nationally-ranked teams Notre Dame, Penn State (three times), Purdue (twice), Ohio State and Minnesota, with NCAA Tournament action still to come.

In addition, MSU opponents Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Kent State, Michigan, Toledo, Pepperdine and UCLA have all been listed among the "Others Receiving Votes" for the Top 25 this season.

Gimme Five
Michigan State entered the season with five players on its roster who had earned All-Big Ten honors during their careers. Junior Kristin Haynie and Kelli Roehrig and sophomores Lindsay Bowen and Liz Shimek all earned honorable mention all-conference honors last season, while senior Julie Pagel was honorable mention All-Big Ten after her freshman year.

Spartans Sign Four
Michigan State women's basketball coach Joanne P. McCallie has announced that four players have signed national letters of intent to join the Spartan women's basketball program in 2004-05.

The signees include Courtney Davidson (PG, 5-5, Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline High School), Maggie Dwyer (G, 6-0, Grand Haven, Mich./Grand Haven High School), Laura Hall (C, 6-4, Temperance, Mich./Bedford High School) and Melanie Small (F, 5-10, Copley, Ohio/Copley High School).

Davidson was a Street & Smith honorable mention All-American in 2003, and is ranked as the No. 33 player in the nation by National Roundball Journal and the No. 43 player by All-Star Girls Report. As a junior in 2002-03, she averaged 19 points per game, was named first-team Division III All-State and the Northeast Ohio Player of the Year and was an all-conference selection. This past summer, she was named an adidas Top Ten Camp Upperclass All-Star, and was an AAU 16-Under All-American.

Davidson is already Ursuline's all-time leading scorer with 1,512 career points entering her senior season. She has averaged 19.7 points per game during her career, along with 8.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 steals. She is a career 41 percent three-point field goal shooter, and has sunk 82 percent of her free throws.

Dwyer has started all 84 games during her four-year high school career as of Nov. 10, and went over the 1,000 career point mark earlier this year. She was averaging 15.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.8 steals per game as of Nov. 10. Dwyer, who moved to point guard this year after spending three seasons playing on the wing, led Grand Haven to a 19-3 record last season and the O-K Red Conference title.

Dwyer, ranked No. 161 nationally by All-Star Girls Report, was MVP of the all-state camp in Midland this summer, was an all-state special mention selection and a Detroit Free Press second-team all-state pick in 2002 and has been first-team all-conference every year of high school. She was a first-team all-area pick by the Grand Rapids Press last season, and has been named to the Muskegon Chronicle's all-area first-team every season. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press both ranked her as the state's fifth-best player prior to her senior season.

Hall led Bedford to an 18-0 record and a No. 4 Class A ranking as of Nov. 10 by averaging 13.9 points and 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 53 percent from the field despite double- and triple-team defenses. On Nov. 6, she became the first player in school history to surpass the 1,000 career point mark. Hall was named a Street & Smith's honorable mention All-American last season and is picked as the nation's 138th-ranked player by All-Star Girls Report. She was selected as the state's sixth-best player prior to her senior season by the Detroit Free Press, and the No. 9 player by The Detroit News.

Hall, a team captain, was named the Monroe Evening News Player of the Year as a junior after averaging 13.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, while leading the Mules to a school-best 21-5 record, their first regional championship and first district title since 1983. She was named first-team all-conference as a junior and as a sophomore, when she averaged 11.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.

Small averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while being named All-Northeast Ohio Inland District and special mention All-Ohio her junior season to help Copley earn a share of the Suburban League title. The Indians reached the district championship before ending their season with a 21-3 record. As a sophomore, she averaged 15.0 points and led Copley to a 19-4 record while being named to the Ohio Girls Basketball Magazine All-Sophomore team.

Small, who has been a starter since her freshman year, was one of 12 players named to the All-Sun team by Sun Newspapers as both a sophomore and a junior, and was a first team All-Suburban League selection as a freshman, sophomore and junior. All-Star Girls Report ranks Small as the No. 130 player in the nation.