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Lady cagers prepare for Purdue

January 18, 2001

The MSU women’s basketball team isn’t in a desirable position.

After a two-game home losing streak, the Spartans (8-8 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., to face conference leader and No. 6-ranked Purdue at 7 p.m. today.

Throw in Purdue guard-forward Katie Douglas, the preseason coaches’ player of the year, and a seven-game winning streak to the Boilermakers (15-3, 5-0), and it’s easy to imagine how the Spartans must be feeling.

But then again, you could be wrong.

“We’re staying really positive,” MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We’re going to keep working hard no matter what.”

However, disappointing home losses to Wisconsin and Illinois last week haven’t gone unnoticed, McCallie said.

“We just need good, hard-nosed, team play,” she said. “We’re having trouble in different areas - in getting our post players open and we struggled against zone defenses. We need to dictate more.”

MSU’s defense is going to have to contain last year’s Big Ten scoring champion in Douglas, who is averaging 14.2 points in conference play this season.

But Douglas isn’t the Boilers’ only threat on offense. When Purdue toppled Northwestern last week 94-37, five players topped in double digits, led by forward Shereka Wright with a career-high 19.

Purdue also leads the conference in rebounding margin, grabbing 7.5 more boards on average than their opponents. They also boast the highest scoring margin (11.5), field goal (37 percent) and three-point defenses (29.3 percent).

That’s not great news for the Spartans, who are only connecting 44.4 percent of field goals on average and 26.8 percent of threes.

But like McCallie, the players said they are working hard and remain optimistic despite the numbers against them.

“We’re putting our old games behind us,” junior forward Abby Salscheider said. “But Purdue is pretty much strong all around. They really have the whole package - great guards, good ball-handlers, good receivers, and some strong inside people too.”

The matchup will also feature both of last week’s Big Ten players of the week - MSU’s freshman forward Julie Pagel and Purdue’s Shalicia Hurns. Both Pagel and Hurns averaged 14.5 points in their teams’ two games prior to receiving player of the week honors.

Pagel said she hopes she can help the team be ready mentally for the matchup.

“We need to all bring our energy together and come out as one. Purdue has a great program, but we can’t go in there scared,” she said.

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