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Tourney hopes hinging

March 10, 2003

Indianapolis - Through 27 games this season, the MSU women's basketball team was only familiar with the winning end of blowouts.

But Ohio State introduced the Spartans (17-11) to the losing end with a 71-55 thumping Friday in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

After MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie watched the Buckeyes (20-8) shoot a tournament-record 60 percent from the field, and her team post its second-lowest scoring total of the season, she admitted watching the film would be "nauseating."

"Maybe the reality for us is it's too bad we didn't have a game like this all year long," she said.

"It's hard to take a lesson at this time of year. Maybe we should have gotten our butts kicked so we could have gone over that and what that felt like. But this has never happened to our team."

The Spartans won 17 games by an average of 18.4 points. Their first 10 losses were by an average of 4.6 points, with the biggest margin of defeat coming on the road to Illinois, 75-65, on Feb. 24.

It is tough to determine how MSU will respond to such a loss. However, it will have plenty of time to think about it.

The Spartans' postseason fate will not be decided until Sunday when the NCAA Tournament teams are announced. MSU hopes to nab an at-large bid for its first appearance in the tournament since 1997, instead of settling for the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

"I believe we're postseason bound, whether the NCAA or the NIT," McCallie said. "I want to say that the Big Ten is an incredible, formidable conference and I feel that five or six teams should go every year - maybe even seven - but I'm biased."

MSU's 17-11 record makes it a bubble team. But its 10-6 regular-season conference record is a good sign.

Since 1995, 30 of 31 Big Ten teams that finished with a 10-6 record have been invited to the NCAA Tournament.

Fab Frosh

For the first time in league history, two athletes shared Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Guard Lindsay Bowen and forward Liz Shimek split the honor, marking just the second time the MSU program has claimed the award.

Bowen nabbed the media's vote, averaging 13.4 points per game. She set a MSU freshman record this year for points scored (378), and tops the Spartans' list with single season and freshman records in 3-pointers made (76), free throw percentage (95.3), and 3-point percentage (47.7).

Shimek took the conference coaches' pick, averaging 10.6 tallies and 9.1 boards per contest.

She ranks second in the conference in rebounding average, while her 255 boards is also second all-time for Spartan freshmen.

Conference Compliments

MSU had five players named to all-Big Ten teams this season - the most in school history. Senior forward Syreeta Bromfield captured second-team honors for the second time in two years, while Bowen, Shimek, sophomore guard Kristin Haynie and sophomore center Kelli Roehrig took home honorable mention recognition.

SuperFan Support

MSU's fan base increased 85 percent over last year, enough to snag the first ever SuperFan Trophy.

Breslin Center welcomed 72,958 fans this season, ranking No. 16 in national attendance. MSU brought in 33,313 more fans than last season, making for the biggest attendance increase in the Big Ten.


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