Lady Bears Look to Rebound at Drake
Missouri State Lady Bears (4-10, 0-3 MVC) vs. Drake Bulldogs (7-7, 1-2 MVC)
When: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 2:05 p.m. Where: Knapp Center (Des Moines, Iowa)
Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM TV: Mediacom (MCC-14)
Live Stats: http://www.godrakebulldogs.com/
Video: Bears Live
After surrendering a school-record 15 three-pointers in a 92-63 setback against Creighton Thursday (Jan. 8) evening in Omaha, the Missouri State Lady Bears will try to right the ship Saturday (Jan. 10) when they take on the Drake Bulldogs at the Knapp Center in a 2:05 p.m. contest.
The Lady Bears enter Saturday’s match-up having dropped their first three Missouri Valley Conference games of the season. Drake lost a pair of road tilts last weekend at Indiana State and Illinois State before returning home Thursday and knocking off Wichita State, 80-60.
Missouri State holds a 31-30 edge in the series with the Bulldogs, but has dropped four straight games to Drake and six out of the last seven meetings between the two schools.
Missouri State has lost its first three games in conference play for the third time in the last four years and the fourth time in the program’s history
The Lady Bears’ will be trying to avoid their first-ever 0-4 start to a conference season
Over its current three-game losing streak, MSU has given up an average of 75 points per contest and allowed the opposition to shoot 51.9 percent from three-point range; the Lady Bears are shooting just 17.6 percent from beyond the arc in those same three games
Last Time Out
Behind a record-setting three-point shooting performance, Creighton ran away with a 92-63 victory over the Lady Bears Thursday (Jan. 8) evening at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. The Bluejays used a 21-1 scoring burst over a seven and-a-half minute span midway through the first half to take control of the contest, then buried the Lady Bears by going 9-of-12 from beyond the arc in the second half to earn their first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season.
Creighton converted 15 treys on the night, which broke a Missouri State opponent record for three-pointers in a single game. Chevelle Herring scored all of her 13 points in the game’s first 20 minutes to lead the Jays first-half offensive outburst, and Kelsey Woodard carried the load in the second stanza, totaling 11 of her game-high 19 points in the first eight and-a-half minutes of the period.
The Jays torched the nets all night, shooting 58.6 percent for the game and turning in their two best halves of the season. In all, six Bluejays finished in double figures, as Creighton posted the top offensive effort by a Missouri State conference opponent since Illinois State scored 95 in its win over the Lady Bears last January at Hammons Student Center.
Despite the lopsided finish, the game started off positively for the Lady Bears, as both clubs got off to hot starts. The two clubs traded the lead five times in the first five minutes before Creighton got back-to-back three-pointers from Megan Neuvirth and Herring to take a 15-10 lead with just over 14 minutes to play in the period. Missouri State answered with a Jaleshia Roberson basket and a three-point play from Jacque Griggs to pull even with the Jays at the 12:28 mark.
That’s when the Bluejays would go to work, getting a Woodard jumper to start the key run with 11:19 to play in the period. Woodard would knock down two three-pointers over a span of two minutes, and Herring would cap the spurt with her third triple of the half with 5:09 to go to stake CU to a 36-16 advantage. The Jays would get two baskets apiece from Neuvirth and Kellie Nelson before the end of the half to take a 45-26 lead into intermission.
Creighton’s defense did its part as well, limiting the Lady Bears to just two field goals over a 10-minute, 33-second stretch. The Lady Bears would go 11-of-24 (.458) from the field in the opening stanza, but were hampered by 10 turnovers.
CU came out firing in the second half as well, converting seven of its first 11 field goal attempts to stretch its advantage to 64-38 with 11:22 left to play. Woodard hit all three of her tries from long range and reeled off eight straight points to key the Jays’ attack. Next, it was Stephanie Rhoten’s turn to dial it up from long distance, as the sophomore guard came off the CU bench to drill four consecutive three-pointers over a three-minute span to push the Bluejay lead to as many as 34.
The Lady Bears, who fell to 0-3 in conference play for the third time in the last three years, finished the night 23-of-46 (.500) from the field, were led by freshman Casey Garrison’s 15 points. Griggs also turned in a solid effort, totaling 11 points and a game-high seven boards.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, ’85) is in her second season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 15-29 mark as the Lady Bears’ mentor and an overall record of 200-65 in eight-plus years as a collegiate head coach. Milleson entered the 2008-09 season as the 24th-winningest active coach (.7809 win percentage) at all NCAA levels with at least five years head coaching experience. She led the Lady Bears to an 11-19 mark and a fifth-place Missouri Valley Conference finish in 2007-08. Prior to taking the reins of the MSU program, the Goodland, Kan., native guided Drury University to a 185-36 record in seven seasons, highlighted by a national runner-up finish in 2003-04. In all, the Lady Panthers made five NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, advancing to the Sweet 16 in four of those years. Milleson was honored as Heartland Conference Coach of the Year four times, as Drury won five conference titles in all. (See page 7 for a complete bio)
Amy Stephens (Nebraska, ’91) is 91-79 in her sixth season as coach of the Bulldogs and 288-122 overall as a collegiate head coach. Stephens came to Des Moines after a highly successful eight-year stay as head coach at Division II Nebraska-Kearney (1994-2002) and one year as assistant coach at the University of Nebraska (2002-03). Stephens guided Drake to a 16-15 record and a WNIT bid in her first season at the helm (2003-04). In 2006-07, the Bulldogs captured the State Farm MVC Tournament title with four wins in four days on their home floor to earn the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Last year, DU claimed a share of The Valley’s regular-season crown to earn a WNIT bid, its fourth postseason appearance in five years under Stephens. Against the Lady Bears, Stephens is 7-5 with a 4-1 mark vs. MSU in Des Moines.
Missouri State holds a slim 31-30 advantage in the series with the Bulldogs, who have taken six of the last 10 meetings, including four straight from the Lady Bears.
Last year, DU routed the Lady Bears, 72-42, in both teams’ MVC opener in Des Moines (Jan. 4). The Bulldogs’ defense held Missouri State to its second-worst shooting performance ever, as the Lady Bears hit just 15-of-69 tries from the field. Lindsay Whorton burned MSU for 22 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, as the Bulldogs built a 20-point halftime lead and never looked back. MSU recovered in Springfield (March 6) against DU, rallying from a 13-point halftime deficit to nearly pull off an upset. But Jill Martin’s 25-point effort was too much for the Lady Bears, as Drake won for the third time in its last four games at Hammons Student Center.
Missouri State is 10-17 all-time versus Drake in Des Moines.
Drake returns three starters and nine letterwinners from last year’s Missouri Valley Conference co-championship squad that went 23-11. Picked to finish third in this years’ preseason MVC poll, Drake has won just twice in the last month since starting the season 5-2. The Bulldogs have struggled to come up with consistent offensive production, having only broken the 70-point mark on two occasions this season. DU did break through in Thursday night’s win over Wichita to record a season-high 80 points, but enters Saturday’s game with the ninth-best scoring offense (59.7 ppg) in The Valley. On the other hand, the Bulldogs can boast of the top scoring defense in the league, having held the opposition to an average of just 58.9 points per outing.
Kristin Turk (12.8 ppg.) leads the Bulldogs’ offensive attack and ranks 10th in the conference in scoring. The sophomore guard also leads the club in steals (1.35 spg.) and three-point field goals (26). Junior point guard Jordann Plummer is DU’s second-leading scorer (10.1 ppg.) and one of the top free throw shooters (.853) in the MVC. The St. Louis native is also the Bulldogs’ No. 3 rebounder (4.1 rpg.). Senior forward Lauren Dybing has started all 14 contests for DU and contributes just under nine points and a team-high 5.1 boards per game. The freshman duo of Brittnye McSparron (6.6 ppg.) and Rachael Hackbarth (6.0 ppg./4.2 rpg.) has made significant contributions to the Drake attack, while veterans Ashleigh Brady (3.7 ppg.), Kelsey Keizer (2.4 ppg./4.8 rpg.), Monique Jones (3.5 ppg./2.6 rpg.) and Kaniesha Agee (2.85 apg.) round out the Bulldogs’ rotation.
Lady Bears vs. Drake
Drake limited the Lady Bears to just 50.0 ppg., and .231 shooting in its two victories last year, including a 2-of-25 performance by MSU from behind the arc. The Lady Bears did manage to outrebound the Bulldogs by a 4.5 rpg. margin, but DU was outstanding in the first half, outscoring MSU 68-35 in the first 20 minutes of the two games.
Individually, Maggie Dwyer was the only Lady Bear to enjoy any measure of success last year against DU, averaging 8.5 points and 6.5 boards per outing.
After their three-point setback to UNI on Jan. 2, the Lady Bears are 11-6 in Missouri Valley Conference openers and 18-8 overall in conference openers since formal competition began in the Gateway in 1983.
The Lady Bears have dropped their first two conference games of each of the last four seasons. Additionally, MSU has lost its first three MVC games in three of the last four years.
Missouri State was picked to finish sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll of coaches, media and sports information directors. The Lady Bears received 215 points to finish behind Illinois State, Creighton, Drake, Evansville and UNI.
Illinois State became the fourth team in MVC history to be a unanimous selection as the preseason No. 1 team and the first since 2001-02 when Drake received all 37 votes from the panel. The other two unanimous choices were the 1986-87 and 1987-88 Southern Illinois squads.
Senior forward Maggie Dwyer was named to the league’s preseason all-conference team after earning second-team honors last season. The Grand Haven, Mich., native was also named MVC Newcomer of the Year in 2007-08, her first with MSU after transferring from Michigan State.
Number Five Leaving Her Mark
Freshman Casey Garrison measures up remarkable well to some of the biggest names in Lady Bear history through the first 14 games of their respective Missouri State careers. Garrison has scored a total of 228 points, good for a 16.3 ppg. average, while pulling down 5.7 boards per outing. The 5-11 guard has led MSU in scoring 10 times, assists nine times and rebounds four times.
Only NCAA Division I scoring leader Jackie Stiles can boast of superior offensive numbers, averaging 20.9 points per game. However, Garrison has posted the most assists among the elite group (3.4 apg.) and ranks a respectable sixth in rebounds per contest (5.4 rpg.). Only Amy Nelson (4.9 apg.), Secelia Winkfield (4.2 apg.) and Tina Robbins (3.4 apg.) have turned in better assist per game numbers than Garrison through 14 career games.
Additionally, Lacey Boshe and Jasmine Malone have turned in noteworthy offensive numbers through the first 14 games of their respective careers. Boshe (7.8 ppg.) rates 12th all-time, while Malone (7.3 ppg.) is close behind in 14th place.
200 For Milleson
MSU second-year head coach Nyla Milleson recorded her 200th career victory at the collegiate level with the Lady Bears’ 77-68 win over Chattanooga (Dec. 20) at the Caribbean Classic in Cancun, Mexico.
Now 200-65 in her ninth year at the college level, Milleson came into the 2008-09 season as the 24th-winningest active collegiate coach at all levels with at least five years head coaching experience. Milleson also amassed a 187-77 overall record in 10 seasons as a high school coach, bringing her combined coaching record to 387-142 (.732) in 19 seasons.
Inside the Numbers
Missouri State continues to lead the Missouri Valley Conference in steals per game, entering Saturday’s game with a 9.7 spg. average. The Lady Bears rank sixth in team scoring (61.7 ppg.) and eighth in scoring defense (67.2), while Drake comes into the game ninth in scoring offense (59.7) and first in team defense (58.9). Among the league’s individual leaders, freshman guard Casey Garrison has wasted little time in making a name for herself. The Bolivar, Mo., product ranks in the MVC’s Top 10 for scoring (second), field goal percentage (t-10th), free throw percentage (fifth), assists (eighth), assist-turnover ratio (seventh), steals (seventh), and minutes played (10th). Lacey Boshe is tied with Garrison for the tenth-best field goal percentage (.500), and Jasmine Malone and Jacque Griggs are tied for 10th in steals (1.7 spg.).
Free and Easy
After converting just 64.9 percent of their free throw attempts in the season’s first six contests, the Lady Bears have heated up from the charity stripe over their last eight outings. MSU has knocked down 145-of-201 (.721) free throws, outscoring the opposition by 63 points at the foul line over the eight-game stretch.
Missouri State’s .696 team free throw percentage ranks sixth in The Valley, but both its 217 made free throws and 312 attempts lead the circuit. Casey Garrison has been the most proficient Valley player in getting to the line, making a league-leading 82 trips to the stripe and converting 69 of those, also tops in the conference.
The Lady Bears have connected from three-point range a minimum of three times in 10 of their 14 games this season and have hit at least one triple in 32 consecutive contests dating back to a 72-42 loss at Drake on Jan. 4, 2008. Prior to their 0-of-10 showing in that game, the Lady Bears had a 36-game streak of at least one three going. Dating back to the 2001-02 season, MSU has hit at least one trifecta in 190 of 192 games, highlighted by a 129-game stretch where they connected at least once from long distance in each outing.
On the Road Again
Missouri State has found the road to be an unfriendly place over the last four seasons. With its loss at Creighton Thursday (Jan. 8), MSU has gone just 5-38 in road contests since 2004-05 and, including neutral court contests, has lost 42 out of its last 49 games away from its home floor.
Five of those seven wins away from home have come under Nyla Milleson, including three road wins during a three-week span last January and February, when the Lady Bears knocked off UNI (1/17/08), Bradley (1/19/08) and Southern Illinois (2/8/08). Additionally, MSU’s three road wins last year was the most recorded by a Lady Bear squad since the 2004-05 campaign.
For the 13th time in 14 games this season, a freshman led the Lady Bears in scoring in MSU’s 92-63 loss to Creighton (Jan. 8). Casey Garrison tallied 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and a 7-of-8 performance at the charity stripe.
Four of the Lady Bears’ top five scorers are freshmen and, so far this season, six Missouri State rookies have accounted for just over two-thirds of MSU’s offense overall and 76.8 percent of the Lady Bears’ offense in the seven home dates. Garrison continues to pace the Missouri State offense, scoring at an 18.4 ppg. clip in JQH Arena, while Lacey Boshe is nearly scoring in double figures at home with a 9.9 ppg. average. Garrison and Malone have combined to knock down 57-of-69 (.826) free throw attempts at home.
Two Missouri State freshmen found their way into the Lady Bears’ starting lineup to open the season Nov. 14 at SEMO, marking the third straight year MSU has started a pair of freshmen in its season opener. Garrison and Malone each drew starting assignments versus SEMO, as six Lady Bear freshmen in all made their Missouri State debuts against the Redhawks. Morgan Harrington became the seventh MSU freshman to see court time when she made her first collegiate appearance at Tulsa (Nov. 19). Harrington has seen her playing time steadily increase after missing the season opener at SEMO while recovering from a high ankle sprain.
Roberson and Boshe cracked the MSU starting lineup Nov. 23 versus Arkansas State, and combined with Garrison, Malone and fellow freshman Regan Soldner to total 53 of the Lady Bears’ 61 points.
After compiling a 325-108 record in Hammons Student Center over the last 32 seasons, the Lady Bears dedicated their new $67 million home facility, JQH Arena, Nov. 23, with a 61-52 win over
The “Q” is the fourth regular home of Missouri State women’s basketball in the 40-year history of the program. The Lady Bears utilized both McDonald Arena and the Greenwood Laboratory School gym from 1969 until Hammons Student Center opened in 1976. MSU continued to play some of its home games at McDonald through the 1979-80 season.
The Lady Bears dropped their first game at Hammons to Iowa State by an 81-62 score on Dec. 11, 1976.
Missouri State will be looking to add to its streak of 18 consecutive seasons ranked in the top 20 nationally in average attendance, which includes the 1992-93 campaign when the Lady Bears led all of Division I in that category. Last year, MSU averaged 5,158 fans per home game, good for 20th in the nation.
The Lady Bears’ new home was made possible by a $30 million gift from MSU alumnus John Q. Hammons and will feature seating for more than 11,000 fans, 24 suites, the PRIME Overtime Club and the Missouri State University Hall of Fame and Legacy of Competition.
Freshman Casey Garrison was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s Newcomer of the Week for the third time in 2008-09 on Dec. 22. The 5-11 guard led Missouri State to a pair of wins and its top two offensive performances of the 2008-09 season in the Caribbean Classic in Cancun, Mexico, Dec. 19-20.
Garrison posted averages of 17.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 4.5 apg. and 1.5 spg. to help the Lady Bears close out the non-conference portion of the schedule on a three-game win streak. She led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field in a 77-68 win over Chattanooga (Dec. 20). Her three-pointer with 7:02 to play in the opening half started a 21-6 run and her second trey with 4:47 to go gave MSU a lead it would never relinquish. Garrison, who scored 18 points in the first half, would add two more baskets before the end of the period to help the Lady Bears take control of the game for good. The Bolivar, Mo., product would also finish with five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
On Dec. 19, Garrison was one of five Lady Bears to finish in double figures with a 10-point, 5-assist, 4-rebound performance in an 82-63 victory over Stephen F. Austin.
Garrison was previously honored by the league office on Nov. 24 and again on Dec. 8 following her 33-point performance in MSU’s near-upset of Western Kentucky (Dec. 7) that represented the second-highest point total in school history for a Lady Bear freshman.
On this Date...
January 10, 2003 Missouri State 57, Drake 50 Kari Koch led three Lady Bears in double figures with 21 points as MSU posted a victory in its 2002-03 MVC home opener. Meg Tierney added 13 points, while Jenni Lingor scored 10 for the Lady Bears. The two teams engaged in a see-saw first half that ended in a 26-26 tie. The game’s second 20 minutes provided much of the same before MSU finally took control, grabbing a four-point lead with just under seven minutes to play. MSU came away with the victory despite shooting just 30.9 percent from the floor. Koch went 10-of-11 from the foul line and the Lady Bears shot .842 (16-of-19) from the charity stripe as a team.
Buzz Bounces Back
One positive that came from MSU’s loss at Tulsa (Nov. 19) was the successful return of junior guard Melissa Busby from a torn ACL that had sidelined her since Feb. 14. Busby went 4-of-15 from the floor to lead the Lady Bears with 13 points and recorded a game-high four steals in 21 minutes of court time.
In that game, the Edmond, Okla., native moved into sole possession of the No. 10 spot on MSU’s all-time three-point field goals made list. She has dialed it up successfully from long distance 82 times in 56 career games entering Saturday’s action. Busby also moved onto the Lady Bears’ career Top 10 chart for three-point attempts against UNI (Jan. 2) when she went 0-for-2 from behind the arc. She enters the game with 239 tries from beyond the arc, which is 38 attempts shy of K.C. Cowgill’s career total in the No. 9 spot on the list.
The Lady Bears locked up four commitments for the 2009-10 season during the NCAA’s early signing period, which ended November 19. Whitney Edie (Exeter, Mo.), Kelsey Smith (Coppell, Texas), Christiana Shorter (Tulsa, Okla.) and Alyson Stock (Nixa, Mo.) have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Missouri State women’s basketball program for the Fall 2009 semester.
Edie became the fourth and final member of the Lady Bears’ fall signing class Nov. 17. The 6-1 forward has already totaled more than 1,900 points and 1,000 rebounds for her high school career at Exeter High. Last year she averaged over 26 points and 12 boards per outing in helping Exeter to its first-ever district title in girl’s basketball. Edie has failed to reach double digits in scoring in just one of 81 games as a prep.
Shorter helped lead Booker T. Washington High School to a 23-4 overall record and the Oklahoma Class 5A state title in 2007-08, averaging 10 points and five rebounds per contest. At 6-2, Shorter brings the versatility to play the post or step out to a wing spot where she can exploit her athleticism and ability to run the floor. She chose the Lady Bears over the likes of Wichita State, Oklahoma State, Tulsa and New Mexico State.
Smith was a first-team All-District 6-5A selection last season after averaging 16.7 points, seven boards and four assists in helping Coppell High go 20-16. A versatile athlete with the strong passing and shooting abilities, Smith can play on the block as well as the perimeter, where she has the ability to stretch defenses with her shooting range.
Stock averaged just under 10 points and four boards last season in her first year playing at Nixa High. The 6-3 post helped the Lady Eagles to a 19-8 record last year. Stock originally committed to the Lady Bears during her sophomore year at Salisbury (Mo.) High School, where she was an MBCA Class 2 All-State selection in 2006-07.
Bears Live and Lady Bears Gameday Guide
Throughout the 2008-09 season, Lady Bear basketball will be shown on Missouri State’s on-line video channel, Bears Live -- a new, premium broadband video destination for exclusive live and on-demand Missouri State streaming video and audio content. Fans wanting to watch Bears and Lady Bears basketball through the Bears Live feature can subscribe at www.missouristatebears.com.
Missouri State fans who subscribe to the Bears Live video streaming service will be able to watch 22 men’s and 20 women’s basketball games live on their computer in 2008-09. All home games will be streamed with the exception of regionally and nationally televised games.
Links to live game stats (when available) and KTXR’s free, on-line broadcast of every Missouri State women’s basketball game can be found on the Lady Bears’ Gameday page located on the MSU Athletics Web site.
Missouri State Peaks in The Valley
The Lady Bears are 204-83 all-time against Valley opponents with a 119-25 home record against league foes. Since joining the MVC in 1992, the Lady Bears have won at least a share of eight regular-season titles and seven conference tournaments. Missouri State has played in 10 of the 15 Valley tournament championship games.