Big Ten Women's Basketball Opens 26th Conference Season on Thursday

Dec. 24, 2007

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The 26th season of Big Ten Conference women's basketball gets underway on Thursday as Northwestern hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. CT live on the Big Ten Network. Seven of the Big Ten's teams wrapped up non-conference play with winning percentages of .700 or better, and Michigan State's Allyssa DeHaan became the fastest player in NCAA Division I history to reach 200 blocks in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Big Ten on TV
Four Big Ten games will hit the national airwaves this week, beginning on Thursday when Northwestern hosts Illinois in the conference season opener at 7 p.m. CT live on the Big Ten Network. Coverage continues on Friday as Wisconsin travels to Purdue for a 7 p.m. ET contest, and on Sunday as Michigan State hosts Ohio State on the network at Noon ET and the Boilermakers head to Minnesota for a 1 p.m. CT matchup.

DeHaan Becomes NCAA's Fastest to 200 Blocks
Michigan State sophomore Allyssa DeHaan became the 10th player in conference history to record 200 career blocked shots with three swats against Providence on Thursday. Her school's all-time record holder with 207 blocks, DeHaan is the fastest player in conference history to reach the 200 blocks milestone, as no other Big Ten player reached the marker before her junior season. Having conquered the milestone in just 44 career games, DeHaan is also the fastest player in NCAA Division I history to reach the marker while playing in her freshman and sophomore seasons. By comparison, Sandora Irvin, the NCAA's all-time blocks leader, had just 140 blocks through 44 career contests. DeHaan set an NCAA record for blocks by a freshman, posting 145 last season. At the time the last NCAA statistical report was release, the 6-9 sophomore led the nation averaging over five blocks per contest.

Big Ten Conference Season Opens Thursday
The Big Ten's conference schedule gets underway on Thursday with an in-state rivalry as Northwestern hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. CT live on the Big Ten Network. Ohio State begins its Big Ten title defense on Sunday with a road matchup at Michigan State that will be featured live on the Big Ten Network at Noon ET. The Buckeyes are looking to become the first team since Iowa in 1987-90 to win four consecutive conference championships.

Big Ten Wraps Up Non-Conference Slate
Nine Big Ten schools wrapped up the non-conference portions of their schedules with winning records, including seven squads with winning percentages of .700 or better. This season marks the first time since the 2002-03 campaign that seven or more Big Ten teams finished the regular-season non-conference schedule with winning averages of .700 or better. Eight Big Ten teams head into the conference schedule coming off a win, including five teams riding win streaks of three games or more. The final week of the non-conference season included one Big Ten win over a ranked opponent, as Indiana knocked off No. 13 West  Virginia, and two conference wins over teams receiving votes outside the polls, as Northwestern defeated Marquette and Minnesota downed border-rival Iowa State.

Hoosiers Upset No. 13 West Virginia
With a 79-66 victory over No. 13/13 West Virginia on Saturday, Indiana recorded its second victory over a ranked opponent under second-year head coach Felisha Legette-Jack and first since Nov. 12, 2006 when the Hoosiers knocked off No. 15/16 Kentucky on the road. Sophomore Jamie Braun led the Hoosiers with her second career double-double, putting up 17 points with a career-high 13 rebounds. IU's victory marks the first time since the 2005-06 campaign that the Big Ten has defeated two top-15 opponents in the non-conference portion of the regular season as Penn State downed No. 11/10 Duke on Dec. 2. 

Big Ten Youth Movement
Including this week's honoree, all eight of the Big Ten's Players of the Week this season have been underclassmen. This marks the seventh straight week that a freshman or sophomore has earned the award, besting the previous record to open a season (3), set in 1999-00. The current award is the third of the season for Illinois sophomore Jenna Smith, while Michigan State sophomore Allyssa DeHaan and Ohio State freshman Jantel Lavender each were recognized once, and Penn State sophomore Tyra Grant earned the honor last week.

New Coaches Making Big Impressions
Through the non-conference portion of the regular season, the Big Ten's four new coaches combined to go 32-13, all with winning percentages of .667 or higher. Penn State's Coquese Washington leads the way with a 9-3 mark (.750), while Illinois' Jolette Law has her squad out to an 8-3 (.727) start. Michigan's Kevin Borseth has the Wolverines sitting at 7-3 (.700), and Michigan State's Suzy Merchant has led the Spartans to an 8-4 (.667) non-conference mark.

Badger Senior Tracks UW Points Record
Wisconsin senior Jolene Anderson needs just 80 points to tie Wisconsin's all-time scoring record of 1,994, set by Barb Franke from 1991-96. With 1,914 career points to her name, Anderson is on pace to become the 12th player in Big Ten history to reach the 2,000-point milestone. The Port Wing, Wis., native has reached double-figure scoring in each of her last 39 games and in 99 of her 103 career contests. The 39-game double-digit scoring streak is the second longest in school history.

Big Ten Among Nation's Elite
At the time the NCAA's most recent statistical rankings were released, several Big Ten teams and individuals ranked among the nation's elite. Michigan State sophomore Allyssa DeHaan stood first in blocks per game with 5.30, while Iowa's Wendy Ausdemore fronted all of NCAA Division I with a .581 three-point field goal percentage. As a team, Illinois is fifth in the nation with a .814 free-throw shooting percentage, Iowa is eighth in three-point shooting percentage (.403), and Michigan State is ninth in blocks with 6.3 swats per game.

Northwestern's Stutz Named Lowe's Candidate
Northwestern senior Sara Stutz was recently named a candidate for the 2007-08 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The honor is presented annually to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year and focuses on the "Four C's" of classroom, character, community and competition. Stutz is one of 30 candidates for the prestigious award.