Feb. 19, 2007
Big Ten Championship Decided This Week
With a home loss to Michigan State on Sunday, Ohio State has narrowed its lead to one game entering the final week of Big Ten play. The Buckeyes (13-1), who are searching for their third straight conference title, can earn a share of the trophy with a home win over Penn State on Thursday. Also on Thursday, second-place Purdue (12-2) hosts Iowa (5-9) while Michigan State (12-2), which is also one game behind the Buckeyes, travels to Illinois (7-7).
New Conference Scoring Champ Crowned This Week?
Heading into the final week of conference play, Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson (18.9 ppg over 14 games) holds a slim advantage over two-time defending Big Ten scoring leader Jessica Davenport (18.4 ppg) of Ohio State. In addition to Davenport, only four other standouts have repeated as the conference's scoring champion, while Penn State's Kelly Mazzante (2001-02-03) was the Big Ten's lone three-time champion during conference play. Anderson would be the Badgers' first Big Ten scoring champion in school history.
Pair of Wildcard TV Games Set for Final Week of Play
After televising a thrilling top-25 matchup between Michigan State and Ohio State last Sunday, Comcast SportsNet Chicago returns to Columbus on Thursday to air the first of two "Wildcard" games in Penn State at Ohio State. The game will air at 8 p.m. ET with Dave Eanet (play-by-play) and Suzie McConnell-Serio (analysis) on the broadcast. The Buckeyes can clinch a share of their third-straight Big Ten title with a victory over the Lady Lions on Thursday. Regular-season action concludes Sunday with the second "Wildcard" contest -- a meeting between Minnesota and Michigan State in East Lansing. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, with Dave Eanet handling play-by-play duties, Sarah Kustok with analysis, and Chris Boden reporting on the sideline. Sunday will mark the lone meeting this season between the Spartans and Golden Gophers.
Three Big Ten Teams Ranked in Nation's Top 20
Three conference squads are ranked in the top 25 of both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Big Ten is represented by No. 5 Ohio State, No. 15 Purdue and No. 20 Michigan State in the recent AP poll, while the coaches poll will be released on Tuesday.
Five Teams Rank Among NCAA Top 50 RPI
According to the most recent NCAA RPI rankings (Feb. 12), three Big Ten schools -- No. 4 Ohio State, No. 7 Purdue and No. 19 Michigan State -- are rated in the top 20, while No. 44 Minnesota and No. 48 Indiana round out the Big Ten contingent in the top 50.
Seven Squads Ranked in Top-30 Attendance Figures
In the weekly unofficial attendance figures compiled by the University of Wisconsin, seven Big Ten teams rank in the nation's top 30 for average attendance. Purdue (7,556 fans per game), Michigan State (6,548) and Wisconsin (6,387) are Nos. 8-10, while Minnesota (6,155) is 12th. Penn State (5,725) is ranked 15th overall and Ohio State (4,970) and Iowa (4,246) are 20th and 26th, respectively.
One Senior, 3 Freshmen Combine for 126 Points Sunday
This past Sunday, four Big Ten individuals combined for 126 points (31.5 ppg) on the court -- an impressive feat considering three of the four players were freshmen. Big Ten co-Player of the Week and Purdue senior Katie Gearlds led all scorers Sunday with 41 points, but was followed by Penn State freshman Tyra Grant with 33, Indiana newcomer Jamie Braun with 27 and Michigan State rookie Allyssa DeHaan with 25, which also earned her co-Player of the Week accolades. Two additional underclassmen shined on Sunday as sophomores Kim Roberson of Indiana recorded 24 points and Iowa's Kristi Smith had 21.
Gearlds' 41 Points Best in Big Ten Since 2005
Purdue's Katie Gearlds posted a new career high of 41 points on Sunday in a win at Wisconsin, which shattered the UW Kohl Center record and set a new single-game high at Purdue. Her total was the highest output since Iowa's Crystal Smith scored 46 points last season in a double-overtime loss at Louisiana Tech on Nov. 22, 2005. In fact, Gearlds' impressive game fell one point shy of the top-10 all-time scoring contests in Big Ten history. Minnesota's Laura Coenen (11/30/84) and Iowa's Amy Herrig (2/14/99) each scored 42 points in a game, which is tied for 10th all-time in conference history.
Grant's 33 the Highest Total for a Freshman Since 2004
With 33 points in a loss at Iowa on Sunday, Penn State's Tyra Grant became the first conference freshman to score over 30 points since Purdue's Katie Gearlds had 32 against the Hawkeyes on Feb. 10, 2004 in Iowa City. In addition, Grant became the first Penn State freshman to total 30 points or more since Kelly Mazzante netted 38 points in a win over Illinois on Feb. 15, 2001.
Purdue's Wisdom-Hylton Becomes Latest 1,000-Point Star
This past weekend the Big Ten added another member to its active 1,000-point career scoring list as Purdue junior Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton recorded her 1,002nd career point. Wisdom-Hylton is one of 10 active conference standouts that have reached the milestone. The Boilermakers now have three current players, Wisdom-Hylton, Katie Gearlds and Erin Lawless with over 1,000 career points. Two more members of the club could be joining the list this week as Wisconsin's Janese Banks (994) and Erin Wigley (986) of Illinois are nearing the mark. A complete breakdown of the 1,000-point club can be found on page four of the release.
Hawkeyes Hot From Both Lines
This past weekend, Iowa set a Carver-Hawkeye Arena record and tied a Big Ten single-game record for three-point field goal percentage as the Hawkeyes made 7-of-8 (.875) treys against Penn State on Sunday. For the season, Iowa has made 138-of-340 (.406) shot attempts from behind the arc, an average that ranks third nationally. Additionally, Iowa has made 420-of-536 (.784) free throw attempts this season, a percentage that rates fifth in the country. The Hawkeyes are closing in on the Big Ten single-season free throw percentage record, which is held by Michigan State's 2002-03 squad. The Spartans shot 390-of-498 (.783), which is just shy of the Hawkeyes' current mark.
Speaking of Three-Point Success...
Illinois' Lori Bjork made six threes during the past week to break the single-season school record for treys in a season. Bjork has 76 made threes, bettering the old record of 74 set by Krista Reinking in 1995-96. She has made at least one three in 33 straight games and at least two treys in a nation-leading 26 straight games.
New Kid on the "Block"
Michigan State freshman Allyssa DeHaan is moving up the Big Ten record chart as her five blocks on Sunday gave her 118 blocked shots this season, which surpassed Ohio State's Jessica Davenport's 116 from 2004-05 for third all-time in conference single-season history. The Spartan newcomer, who is currently second in the nation with an average of 4.4 swats per game, is one of only four players in conference history to block 100 shots in a season and now trails only Michigan's Trish Andrew and her 136 blocks in 1991-92 and Wisconsin's Janetta Johnson with 130 in 1988-89.
Big Ten Tournament Tickets on Sale
Single-session and all-session tickets for the 2007 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament presented by Xbox 360 are currently on sale and available at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (317) 239-5151. The all-session tickets are $65, while single-session prices range from $12-16. The 13th annual women's event will be back in Indianapolis, March 1-5, 2007, where it has been staged in 11 of the 12 previous years. Information on the event can be found on bigten.org.