December 11, 1998
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
Saturday, Dec. 12 - 3 p.m., EST
Saturday, Dec. 12 - 3 p.m., EST
Michigan State plays its final road game of 1998 today when it faces Southern Illinois in a non-conference battle at SIU Arena (10,014).
Following todays contest, the Spartans are idle until a Dec. 21 contest with Notre Dame.
Michigan State improved to 5-3 overall with a 79-67 victory over Ohio on Wednesday. The Spartans, who have won four of their last five games, had their three-game winning streak snapped last Saturday in a 64-60 road loss to Illinois State.
SIU is 1-5 following a 78-52 loss to Saint Louis on Dec. 5. The Salukis only win of the season came against Murray State (84-73) on Nov. 20.
Michigan State coach Karen Langeland is in her 23rd year of directing the Spartan program. The dean of Big Ten womens coaches has a career record of 345-267, all at MSU.
The Grand Rapids native is just five victories shy of her 350th career win. Langeland has guided the Spartans to 15 winning seasons, three NCAA Tournaments and a Big Ten title (1997) since becoming the third head coach in MSU history.
After spending 18 years as an assistant and associate coach at SIU, Julie Beck is in her first season as the head coach of the Salukis. She 1-5 heading into todays game with the Spartans.
SIU is 2-0 in its only two meetings with the Spartans. Todays contest is the first game between the two schools since 1978.
The Salukis won 67-59 in Carbondale in the first-ever game between the programs on Jan. 31, 1976, and pulled out a 63-62 victory on March 9, 1978 in East Lansing in Karen Langelands second year as head coach of the Spartans.
The Salukis return home after playing and losing four-straight road games.
Sophomore guard Terica Hathaway paces the Saluki attack with a 13.8 points per game average.
Sophomore Maria Niebrugge and 6-3 junior center Melaniece Bardley are SIUs other double-figure scorers, averaging 10.5 and 10.2 points per game, respectively. Niebrugge is also the teams leading rebounder with a 6.3 boards per game average.
As a team, the Salukis average just 60.7 points per game and have struggled with turnovers, averaging 23.7 per contest.
Five players could miss todays game with the Spartans because of injuries, including starting guard Tiffany Traylor, who has a stress fracture.
REESE AND DAVIS SUFFERS SEASON-ENDING INJURIES
Freshman point guard Vnemina Reese (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and sophomore forward Nikki Davis (Brighton) will miss the remainder of the 1998-99 season after suffering knee injuries last week.
Reese injured her right knee early in the second half of MSUs win over Detroit on Dec. 1, while Davis went down in MSUs game at Illinois State on Dec. 5.
Both players have torn anterior cruciate ligaments and will undergo reconstructive surgery later this month.
Reese, who started the first six games of the year, was averaging 5.7 points and 2.7 assists per game and was leading the team with 14 steals.
Davis had played in seven games and was averaging 0.7 points and 1.3 rebounds as a reserve.
Sophomore Donita Johnson has taken over the starting point guard duties with the season-ending injury to freshman starter Vnemina Reese.
Johnson started her first game of the year and the third of her career in MSUs contest with Illinois State on Dec. 5.
She played 32 minutes and scored six points, dished off a career-high four assists, had two blocks and two steals against the Redbirds.
Sophomore Christie Pung will also play a key role in running the offense with the loss of Reese.
Pung came off the bench against the Redbirds and scored seven points in 22 minutes of action.
NEW REBOUNDING FORCE
Sophomore guard Donita Johnson pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds in MSUs victory over Ohio on Wednesday, becoming the first Spartan guard since 1992-93 to collect double-figure boards.
Former Spartan Prudence Evans twice pulled down 10 rebounds in her final campaign with the Spartans. The 5-9 guard was one assist away from recording a triple-double against Illinois on March 7, 1993 when she scored 16 points, pulled down 10 boards and had nine assists in an 85-69 victory over the Illini.
She also collected 10 boards in a 71-54 victory over Minnesota on Feb. 28, 1993. Johnson, who has started the last two games, is averaging 3.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Coach Karen Langeland has just six players on her bench following the season-ending injuries to Vnemina Reese and Nikki Davis.
Three of the players are freshmen, two are sophomores and one is a junior. The six players combined have played in 128 collegiate games and made 10 starts.
Career Career Games Starts Whitney Winberg 52 2 Erin Skelly 32 4 Christie Pung 29 4 Abby Salscheider 8 0 Jill Blazek 5 0 Kelly Czubak 2 0 Total 128 10
Now that sophomore Donita Johnson has moved into the starting lineup, sophomore Christie Pung is MSUs leading reserve averaging 3.8 points per game.
Against Ohio, all six Spartan reserves saw action but were outscored by the Bobcat reserves, 33-9.
Overall, MSU reserves are contributing 14.9 points per game compared to its opponents 15.5 points per contest average.
The Spartan bench has outscored their opponents reserves in four of eight games.
LOOKING FOR A COMPLETE GAME
For the first time all season, the Spartans put together a solid first half of play in the win over Ohio. Unfortunately, the second half performance wasnt as strong.
Against the Bobcats, MSU went into the intermission with a lead (40-21) for just the third time all season.
The Spartans are averaging almost nine points better in the second half of play this season. Overall, MSU is averaging 31.2 points in the first half and 40.0 in the second. Spartan opponents are scoring 30.8 points in the first half compared to 33.2 points in the second half.
Halftime Deficits Opponent HT Score Final Butler (11/13) 42-26 (-16) L-70-62 Illinois State (12/5) 34-23 (-11) L-64-60 Boston Coll. (11/22) 33-29 (-4) L-80-74 ot SMU (11/27) 38-36 (-2) W-80-71
Halftime Leads Opponent HT Score Final Ohio (12/9) 40-21 (+19) W-79-67 C. Michigan (11/15) 33-22 (+11) W-73-48 Texas A&M (11/28) 32-26 (+6) W-74-59
Halftime Ties Opponent HT Score Final Detroit (12/1) 31-31 (=) W-78-70
ON THE DOUBLE
Junior Kristen Rasmussen and sophomore Becky Cummings have been a formidable rebounding force for the Spartans this season.
The duo ranks second and third, respectively, in the Big Ten in rebounding with Rasmussen averaging 9.9 boards per game and Cummings contributing 9.4 per contest.
Rasmussen has garnered double-digit boards three times this season, while Cummings has four double-figure games to her credit. In the last two games, Rasmussen is averaging 12.0 boards per contest, while Cumming is averaging 11.5.
Double-Doubles Kristen Rasmussen Opponent Pts. Reb. Texas A&M 18 11 Ohio 10 12 Season Total - 2 -- Career Total - 13
Becky Cummings Opponent Pts. Reb. Central Michigan 10 10 SMU 18 13 Ohio 21 11 Season Total - 3 -- Career Total - 4
Kristen Rasmussen is third in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game with a 1.63 average and 13 blocks.
Last week, she became MSUs all-time leader in blocked shots in record fashion. Heading into the game with Detroit on Dec. 1, the East Lansing native needed just one block to break Jackie Carters all-time record of 90. Instead, Rasmussen tied her career high with five blocked shots to improve her career total to 95.
She added two blocks against Illinois State to increase her career total to 97. Rasmussen needs just three more to become the first player in Spartan history to reach 100 career blocks.
Career Blocked Shots 1. Kristen Rasmussen 97 (1997-SA) 2. Jackie Carter 90 (1980-83) 3. Sue Forsyth 65 (1987-89) 4. Paula Sanders 62 (1994-97) Annette Babers 62 (1991-93)
MORE ON RAS
Kristen Rasmussen leads the Spartans with a 17.0 points per game average, good for sixth in the Big Ten in scoring. She has been MSUs leading scorer in five of eight games this season and the leading rebounder six times.
The Spartan tri-captain, who has started 45-straight games for MSU, is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (17.0 ppg) and ranks among the conference leaders in rebounds (2nd/9.9), blocks per game (3rd/1.63), field goal percentage (9th/.500) and free throw percentage (6th/.795).
The East Lansing native is shooting 50 percent from the field, despite the fact that she has increased her range over the last two seasons.
Rasmussen continues her climb up the MSU all-time scoring and rebounding charts. She currently ranks 23rd all-time in scoring with 701 points and is 15th all-time with a 453 boards.
She scored 10 points against Ohio on Wednesday to become the 23rd player in Spartan history to score 700 points and soon will become the 13th player to reach 500 career rebounds. Overall, Rasmussen has played in 64 career games and is averaging 11.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest.
She has scored in double figures in seven of eight games this season and a total of 37 in her career. Rasmussen has two double-doubles this season and a total of 13 in her three-year career.
REESE ON THE MARK
Junior guard Maxann Reese scored a season-high 22 points in MSUs win over Ohio, going 10-of-15 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range.
In the last two games, Reese is averaging 19.5 points per game and shooting 57 percent from the field and 63 percent from three-point land.
Against the Bobcats, Reese also contributed three rebounds, a season-high five assists, one block and three steals in 27 minutes of action. She also did not commit a turnover in the contest.
On Dec. 5 against Illinois State, Reese went 3-of-5 from three-point range to become just the fifth player in Spartan history to record 100 triples in a career.
She stands fourth on the all-time chart with 104 career triples.
The Highland Park native has proven this season that she is much more than just a scorer. She is averaging a career-high 4.0 rebounds per game and has 11 more assists than turnovers (25-14). She leads the team with 16 steals and is shooting 82 percent from the free throw line. Overall, Reese has played in 65 career games and is averaging 10.2 points and 2.5 assists per game.
She has scored in double figures in seven of eight games this year and in a total of 34 during her three-year career.
Career Three-Pointers 1. Tanya Place 159 (1992-95) 2. Chris Powers 144 (1992-95) 3. Eileen Shea 123 (1988-91) 4. Maxann Reese 104 (1997-SA) 5. Jamie Wesley 101 (1995-98)
Sophomore Becky Cummings is third on the team with a 13.2 points per game average and is third in the Big Ten in rebounding with a 9.4 boards per contest average.
Cummings, who has started all eight games in the post for MSU, has scored in double figures in seven of eight games this season and has garnered double-digit rebounds four times.
The Walled Lake native is shooting 57 percent from the field and leads the team with an average of 6.1 trips to the free throw line per game.
She contributed a career-high 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.
Forward Pernille Dalgaard is the only senior on the 1998-99 MSU squad. She has started all eight games for the Spartans and is contributing 7.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.
Dalgaard has scored in double figures in two of the last three games, including a season-high 13 points in the win over Ohio on Dec. 9.
SUCCESS STARTS AT HOME....
If the Spartans are to improve upon last seasons 11-16 record, they will need to perform better at home.
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.
The Spartans are 3-1 at home this year and have an all-time home mark of 205-96 (.681) and a record of 80-38 (.678) in 10 years at the Breslin Center.
....AND CONTINUES OF THE ROAD
A stretch of nine-straight road games a year ago was difficult for the youthful Spartans as they managed just six wins in 16 road games overall.
MSU recently finished playing three-straight road games, the longest the Spartans will face in 1998-99.
The first part of January will be the toughest stretch for the Spartans as they play four of five games on the road, including back-to-back road contests against Penn State (Jan. 11) and Purdue (Jan. 15).