Dec. 6, 1999
East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State takes its six-game unbeaten streak on the road for a pair of games this week. The Spartans will face intrastate rival Central Michigan on Wednesday, Dec. 8 at Rose Arena (5,200) in Mt. Pleasant. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
MSU then travels to South Bend, Ind., for a game against eighth-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 11. The Spartans and Irish will square off at 2 p.m., at the Joyce Center (11,418).
Both games will be carried live on WVFN Radio (730 AM) with Mike Vander Woude calling the action.
Former Chippewa standout Tracy Renken will provide the analysis for both contests.
Fans can also access the game via the internet at www.msuspartans.com.
MSU is 6-0 following a 20-point win over Butler on Dec. 5 and a 91-65 victory against Illinois State on Dec. 2. The Spartans have equaled their best start in school history.
Central Michigan is 1-3 after a 92-55 road loss to Eastern Michigan on Dec. 4. The Chippewas only victory of the season came against Texas Southern (73-47) on Nov. 27.
The Irish begin the week with a 4-1 mark after winning the Wachovia Championship last weekend in Richmond, Va., with victories over Liberty (85-68) and North Carolina (99-86).
Notre Dame will face defending national champion Purdue in West Lafayette on Dec. 8 before hosting the Spartans on Saturday.
IN THE POLLS
Michigan State received 10 votes in last week's USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll and 7 votes in the Associated Press poll.
Notre Dame was ranked eighth in last week's USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll and 11th in the Associated Press poll.
Michigan State coach Karen Langeland is in her 24th season at the helm of the Spartan program. A native of Grand Rapids, Langeland has a career coaching mark of 363-278.
Langeland, who is the dean of Big Ten Conference women's basketball coaches, has guided the Spartans to three postseason appearances in the last four years, including a quarterfinal appearance in the WNIT last season.
Fran Voll is in his fourth year at Central Michigan and in his 11th season in the collegiate ranks. Voll has a record of 33-52 with the Chippewas and a career mark of 177-112.
Muffett McGraw is in her 13th year at Notre Dame and her 18th campaign overall. The Irish mentor begins the week with a school record of 265-111 and a career coaching ledger of 353-152.
MSU and Central Michigan will meet for the 33rd time on Wednesday. The Spartans hold a commanding 24-8 advantage in the series that began in 1973.
Overall, MSU has won three-straight against the Chippewas, including a 73-48 victory in East Lansing last season.
The Spartans are 10-4 in games played in Mt. Pleasant. MSU's last loss to the Chippewas came in Mt. Pleasant, a 60-59 setback on Nov. 29, 1993.
MSU has a 7-3 lead in its all-time series with Notre Dame. Last season, the Irish captured a 75-64 victory in East Lansing, snapping the Spartans' three-game winning streak against Notre Dame.
MSU has won two-straight in South Bend, a 75-73 thriller on Dec. 7, 1994 and a 64-48 win on Dec. 13, 1989.
LAST TIME OUT
Donita Johnson scored a career-high 14 points off the bench to lead MSU to a 73-48 victory over Central Michigan last season.
Johnson scored nine of her 14 points in the second half and helped the Spartans take a 56-36 lead with 6:26 left in the game. MSU outscored the Chippewas, 13-2, over the last 3:15 of the contest en route to the victory.
The Spartans came up with 20 steals, forced 25 turnovers and held the Chippewas to just 33 percent shooting from the field.
Kristen Rasmussen led the Spartans in scoring with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Seventh-ranked Notre Dame used a balanced scoring attack and dominated the offensive glass to hold off Michigan State for a 75-64 victory on Dec. 21, 1998.
Center Ruth Riley scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Irish, who outrebounded MSU, 52-27, and scored 34 second-chance points.
MSU shot just 26 percent from the field in the first half and went 11 minutes and 32 seconds without a field goal as the Irish built a 19-point lead (30-11) with 4:02 remaining.
ABOUT THE CHIPPEWAS
Eleven of the 13 players on the CMU roster are underclassmen, including six sophomores and five freshmen.
The Chippewas are averaging just 63.5 points per game and 38.2 rebounds per contest. CMU has topped the 70-point mark just once this season.
Senior forward Shelly Woods tops CMU in scoring with a 12.8 points per game average. Senior guard Jodi Culbertson contributes 11.5 points and 5.2 assists per game.
ABOUT THE IRISH
Notre Dame is a veteran team with four starters back from last season's squad that compiled a 26-5 mark.
Seniors Danielle Green and Niele Ivey along with juniors Ruth Riley and Kelley Siemon are the heart of the Irish team. Riley is a preseason player of the year candidate.
While the Irish are an experienced team, it is the play of freshman guard Alicia Ratay that has sparked Notre Dame.
Ratay is averaging 18.4 points per game after pouring in 32 points in the win over North Carolina.
As a team, the Irish are averaging 79.2 points per game and shooting 52 percent from the field.
SPARTANS OFF TO BEST START IN 15 YEARS
Michigan State has equaled its best start in school history with a 6-0 opening.
The 1983-84 squad opened the campaign with six-straight wins en route to an 18-10 season.
WINNING STREAK TOPS SINCE 1996-97
MSU's six-game winning streak is its longest since the 1996-97 season, the year the Spartans won the Big Ten.
That season, MSU won six-straight before suffering a loss to Illinois and then rebounded with a seven-game unbeaten stretch.
TOUGH ?D? LEADS TO WINS
MSU has held five of its first six opponents to less than 70 points. Alabama scored 72 in a one-point loss to the Spartans.
The Spartans have won 15-straight games when holding the opposition to less than 70 points. MSU's last loss was a 62-60 setback to Ohio State on Dec. 30, 1998.
Michigan State is averaging more than 20 points per game better than its opponents. The Spartans have scored 82.7 points per contest, compared to their opponents 62.5 per game average.
MSU LOOKS TO BREAK WINLESS STREAK AGAINST TOP 25 TEAMS
The Spartans will head into the game with Notre Dame looking for their first win over a nationally ranked opponent since 1997.
MSU is winless in its last 11 contests against Top 25 teams. The Spartans' last win over a ranked opponent came on March 14, 1997 when it topped No. 25 Portland in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
RASMUSSEN JOINS ELITE CLUB
Senior Kristen Rasmussen pulled down eight rebounds in the win over Illinois State on Dec. 2 to become just the sixth player in Spartan history to record 700 boards in a career. Rasmussen currently ranks fifth on the all-time rebound chart with 712 boards.
The Spartan forward also became one of just four players in Spartan history to score 1,000 points and pull down 700 rebounds in a career. Rasmussen, who has scored 1,103 points, joins Kris Emerson (1,590 pts./933 reb.), Mary Kay Itnyre (1,189 pts./821 reb.) and Kisha Kelley (1,668 pts./701 reb.) in the elite group.
REESE MOVES UP ANOTHER SPOT
Senior guard Maxann Reese scored 15 points against Butler on Dec. 5 to move up another spot on the all-time scoring chart. Reese now stands fourth on the all-time list with 1,193 points.
The Highland Park native, who is MSU's all-time leader in three-point field goals, scored a season-high 25 points in the win over Illinois State on Dec. 2.
CUMMINGS STEPS UP PLAY
Junior forward Becky Cummings has taken her game to another level this season.
The Walled Lake native is averaging 15.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest, while shooting 56 percent from the field.
She has been the Spartans' leading scorer four times and the top rebounder twice.
Cummings' aggressiveness inside has sent her to the free throw line an average of 7.8 times per game. She has made more free throws than any other player on the team has attempted. Against Southern Illinois, she was 8-for-8 from the free throw line en route to a 16-point night.
Junior Donita Johnson has played a key role in MSU's early success this season. Johnson is averaging 6.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
She is also shooting a solid 45 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line. In the win over Butler, Johnson started at the point in place of Vnemina Reese and scored four points, had six rebounds, six assists and four steals. She also had just one turnover in 33 minutes of action.
Michigan State has outrebounded five of its first six opponents and is averaging 42.2 boards per game compared to its opponents 36.0 per game average.
Southern Illinois is the only team to outboard (32-31) the Spartans this season.
REESE SOLID AT POINT GUARD
Redshirt freshman Vnemina Reese has picked up where she left off last season at point guard. Reese started the first six games of last year before being sidelined for the season with a knee injury.
She has played in five of six games this season and is averaging 4.4 points and 5.6 assists per game, good for a top three ranking among Big Ten players this season.
The Fort Wayne, Ind., native distributed a career-high nine assists in the first game of the year and had seven in the win over Illinois State on Dec. 2 and the Nov. 27 game with Southern Illinois.
CALLIER STILL OUT
Freshman center Jennifer Callier is hoping to return to the Spartan lineup in time for the Dec. 19 game against North Carolina. Callier has been sidelined with a stress reaction in her right foot.
Callier had an impressive debut in her first collegiate game, scoring 15 points and pulling down six rebounds in the first contest of the year.
AT THE BRESLIN CENTER
The Spartans have had a winning record at home 25 times in 27 years of play.
MSU has an all-time record of 214-100 (.681) at home and a mark of 89-42 (.679) in 10 years at the Breslin Center.
The Spartans have a modest six-game winning streak at home dating back to last season. MSU's last home loss came against defending national champion Purdue on Jan. 31, 1999 (80-66).
Seniors Maxann Reese and Kristen Rasmussen have been selected as team co-captains for 1999-2000. Reese and Rasmussen were tri-captains last year along with the graduated Pernille Dalgaard.
Rasmussen joins Brenda Jezowski and Christine Powers as the only players in Spartan history to serve as team captain three times. Rasmussen was also a co-captain as a sophomore in 1997-98 with Jamie Wesley.