Missouri State Lady Bears (12-4, 4-1 MVC) vs. Illinois State Redbirds (10-5, 3-1 MVC) Dates: Monday, January 18, 2010Time: 7:05 p.m.Site: JQH Arena (11,000)Location: Springfield, Mo.Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Rob Evans, Lynne Miller)TV: NoneLive Audio: www.radiospringfield.com Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.comLive Video: Bears Live
After opening their longest home stand of the Missouri Valley Conference season Saturday with a 69-65 victory over Indiana State, the Missouri State Lady Bears will take on the defending Valley champion Illinois State Redbirds Monday evening in a 7:05 p.m. contest.
With their 75-60 win at Wichita State on Saturday, the Redbirds have won three of their first four conference games, as well as seven of their last nine contests overall following a 3-3 start. ISU has been solid on the road in 2009-10, winning seven of its first nine games away from Redbird Arena.
Missouri State has been hot as of late also, claiming victory in eight of its last nine ballgames, including seven consecutive wins at JQH Arena.
►Missouri State will be trying to stop a six-game losing streak in the series with Illinois State
►Despite leading the MVC with a .375 shooting percentage from beyond the arc, the Lady Bears were shooting just .315 from three-point range through their first eight games of the season at JQH Arena
►Missouri State leads the Valley in scoring (77.0), assists (15.3), steals (10.6), offensive rebounding (14.5) and three-point field goal percentage (.375) coming into Monday's game
►Four Lady Bears are averaging 12.8 points per game or more in conference play
►Monday's game will feature a showdown between the top two scorers in the Missouri Valley Conference; Casey Garrison leads the league with an 18.8 ppg. average, while ISU's Maggie Krick is averaging 17.4 points per game to rank second in the Valley
►The Lady Bears have been deadly at the foul line in MVC play, hitting 79.5 percent (116-of-146) of their free throw attempts through the first five games of the conference season
►Missouri State's current seven-game win streak at JQH Arena is its longest at home since closing the 2005-06 campaign by winning its final seven home games at Hammons Student Center; MSU has not won eight straight at home since December of 2005
Last Time Out
After falling behind by 10 points early in the second half, the Lady Bears' got clutch performances from their defense and sophomore Casey Garrison to pull out a 69-65 victory over Indiana State Saturday afternoon at JQH Arena. Garrison scored 17 of her game-high 27 points over the last 13:38 of the contest, as MSU outscored ISU 22-6 over a 10-minute stretch to earn its seventh straight home win.
After a 10-0 ISU run in the opening minutes of the second half handed the Sycamores their largest lead of the afternoon, Garrison scored seven straight and nine of MSU's next 10 points to help turn the tide in the Lady Bears' favor for good. The Bolivar, Mo., product's jumper with 5:51 to play drew MSU even at 57-57 and, on ISU's ensuing possession, her steal and subsequent drive to the hoop gave the Lady Bears a lead they would not relinquish.
Garrison tacked on a pair of free throws to push the lead to 61-57, and Kendra Roberts drove the left side of the lane for a bucket to make it a six-point game with 3:45 to play.
Indiana State would score the next four points, getting baskets in the paint from Shannon Thomas and Moriah Hodge to pull to within two points. The Sycamores would have a chance to tie or take the lead in the final minute but Brittany Schoen's three-pointer was off the mark, and Garrison coolly sank two more foul shots with 22 seconds left to ice the victory.
In addition to Garrison's heroics, the Lady Bear defense came up big to help pull out the Missouri State victory, its third straight come-from-behind win at home after trailing by 10 points or more. After ISU scored six straight points to claim a 57-51 lead with 8:20 to play, the MSU defense would hold the Sycamores scoreless for nearly five minutes to turn the six-point deficit into a six-point advantage.
Garrison finished the day 8-of-12 from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line and also chalked up a game-high four assists and six rebounds. She was joined in double figures by Christiana Shorter and Jaleshia Roberson, who totaled 12 and 10 points, respectively.
After a nip-and-tuck first half that featured four ties and 13 lead changes, Indiana State scored the final five points of the period to take a 34-32 lead into the halftime locker room. Schoen went 4-of-6 from three-point range to lead all scorers with 12 first-half points, while Thomas coralled eight of her game-high 15 rebounds in the opening stanza.
ISU grabbed the early advantage by outworking the Lady Bears on the boards, cashing in on five offensive rebounds in the game's first eight minutes for six second-chance points. Schoen canned a pair of three-pointers, the last of which gave ISU a 17-15 lead with 12:10 left in the half. But Missouri State reeled off five unanswered points to reclaim the lead. Garrison converted the first of her three three-pointers on the day, and Shorter drove for two more off of a steal to give the Lady Bears a 20-17 advantage.
The Sycamores responded with a 7-0 spurt of their own with Schoen capping the run with another trey to hand the visitors a four-point lead with 6:47 to play before intermission. ISU led 29-25 with just over three minutes to go in the period when Roberts would drive baseline for the first two of seven unanswered MSU points. The junior transfer would knock down two more baskets during the run to stake the Lady Bears to a three-point lead.
But ISU would score the last five points of the half, as Schoen would hit from long range once more to give the Sycamores a two-point edge at the break.
Thomas would tally a team-high 16 points for ISU to finish with a double-double, while Schoen chipped in 14 points for the Sycamores, who dropped their fifth straight contest and fell to 9-7 overall and 0-5 in the MVC.
Missouri State holds a 30-26 edge in the series with Illinois State, including a 17-10 mark versus the Redbirds at home. Illinois State has won six games in a row vs. MSU, and the Lady Bears have taken just two of the last 10 meetings from the Redbirds overall. ISU has also enjoyed some recent success on the Lady Bears' home floor, having taken the last three meetings in Springfield by an average margin of +22.0 points.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her third season at Missouri State with a 33-43 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 218-79 in 10 years as a collegiate head coach. 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. Including her 187 wins at the high school level, Milleson notched her 400th career coaching victory with MSU's win at Oral Roberts on Dec. 19.
Robin Pingeton (St. Ambrose, '90) is in her seventh season as head coach of the Redbirds, having compiled a 126-78 mark at ISU and a 320-154 overall record in 15 years as a collegiate head coach. Pingeton has guided Illinois State to a pair of MVC tourney championships, as well as the last two regular-season titles.
Scouting the Lady Bears
With 12 wins in their first 16 games, the Lady Bears have already surpassed their season win total from a year ago. Picked to seventh in the MVC's preseason poll, Missouri State has gotten balanced contributions across the board, as four players are averaging 12 points or more in conference play. Sophomore Casey Garrison has picked up right where she left off a year ago when she led all Division I true freshman in total scoring. So far, the Bolivar, Mo., native is the top scorer (18.8 ppg.) and assister in the MVC, ranking 15th nationally in assists per game (6.1) and 39th in scoring as of Jan. 15. Garrison also ranks among the circuit's leaders in offensive rebounding (1st-3.4 rpg.), assist-turnover ratio (1st-1.9), minutes played (1st-36.0 mpg.), steals (2nd-2.9 spg.), rebounding (4th-7.8 rpg.), field goal percentage (8th-.510) and free throw percentage (10th-.827). Sophomore forward Lacey Boshe is MSU's third-leading scorer, averaging 10.0 ppg., while her .523 field goal percentage is tops on the club and ranks fifth in the conference. The Lady Bears' second-leading scorer, sophomore Jaleshia Roberson (14.3 ppg.) has posted two 30+ point games in MSU's last seven outings. Roberson has connected on 43 of her last 93 (.462) three-point attempts and her 2.9 three-pointers per game lead the conference. Senior Melissa Busby is another MSU threat from long range who comes into the week shooting .356 from beyond the three-point arc. The Edmond, Okla., native enters Monday's game tied for ninth place on the Lady Bears' career three-point field goals chart with 120 makes.
As a team, Missouri State is outscoring the opposition by an average of 6.4 points per contest and shooting .441, while its defense has forced an average of nearly 20 turnovers per outing this season. MSU leads the Valley in both scoring offense (77.0 ppg.) and three-point field goal percentage (.375), ranking among the nation's top 25 teams in both categories as of Jan. 15.
Scouting the Redbirds
Illinois State was picked to finish second in the Valley by the league's coaches, media representatives and sports information directors after claiming at least a share of the last two regular-season titles. The Redbirds returned eight letterwinners from last year's squad that went 27-8 and advanced to the semifinal round of the WNIT. Four returning starters, who brought a combined 232 career starts into the 2009-10 season, lead the way for another talented ISU team. Pacing the Redbird attack is senior guard Maggie Krick (17.4 ppg./5.5 rpg.), a two-time all-conference pick who enters the week as the No. 2 scorer in the MVC. Krick gets help from junior Shala Jackson, who started 31 games and averaged better than nine points per outing last year. Junior transfer Hannah Spanich has made significant contributions in her first year in a Redbird uniform, coming into the week as ISU's fourth-leading scorer. Another junior, Amanda Clifton, ranks among the MVC's leaders in assist-turnover ratio and her 19 steals is the top total on the club. On the interior, ISU features two of the most experienced post players in the conference in three-year starters Nicolle Lewis and Ashleen Bracey. The duo combines for better than 23 points and 13 rebounds per game and provides ISU a consistent defensive presence in the paint. Lewis ranks second in the MVC in field goal percentage (.545) and third in blocks (1.8 bpg.), while Bracey is the No. 11 scorer (12.3 ppg.) and eighth-leading rebounder (6.9 rpg.) in the circuit.
As a team, the Redbirds brought the fifth-best free throw percentage in the nation into Saturday's contest at Wichita State. ISU has hit on 79.3 percent of its attempts from the line this season and its +6.5 rebound margin is the second-highest in the MVC.
So Far, So Good
MSU's 12-4 start is its best since the 2003-04 season, when it 20 of its first 21 games en route to a 28-4 finish and the school's 12th NCAA Tournament appearance. In each of the Lady Bears' last seven starts that included at least 11 wins in their first 15 games they have gone on to earn a bid to the Big Dance.
No lead has been safe for Lady Bear opponents so far in 2009-10, as MSU has claimed victories in four games in which they have faced double-digit deficits. Indiana State led by 10 points early in the second half of the Lady Bears' eventual 69-65 win on Saturday, marking the third straight MVC home game in which MSU overcame a double-digit deficit. The Lady Bears trailed by as many as 12 against Bradley on Dec. 31, before rallying for a five-point win, then climbed out of an 11-point hole to post a 90-80 victory vs. UNI two days later. MSU also defeated UTEP on Dec. 4, after trailing the Miners by 11 in the first half. Prior to that win, the Lady Bears had not overcome a deficit of 10 points or more in nearly two seasons, dating back to a Jan. 12, 2008, victory over Southern Illinois.
Lady Bears Land Hardware
For the second time in 2009-10, a pair of Lady Bears earned a clean sweep of the Missouri Valley Conference's weekly individual honors, as Jaleshia Roberson was named MVC Player of the Week, and Christiana Shorter picked up MVC Newcomer of the Week honors for the period Jan. 4-10.
The awards were the second of the season for both Roberson and Shorter. A sophomore from Kansas City, Roberson earned her first player of the week distinction of the season on Dec. 21 after connecting on 11-of-18 (.611) three-point attempts and 18-of-31 (.581) tries from the field overall in the MSU victories over Murray State and Oral Roberts. Shorter earned newcomer of the week laurels on Dec. 7, after picking up all-tournament recognition at the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic in Manhattan, Kan.
The awards continued a recent stream of MVC honors for the Lady Bears, as MSU earned at least one of the two weekly citations from the Valley in five of the nine weeks the conference office has presented individual honors. Sophomore guard Casey Garrison earned MVC Player of the Week recognition on Dec. 14, following her triple-double against Tulsa, while freshman Whitney Edie earned MVC Newcomer of the Week that same day after posting a career-high 20 points in the win over the Golden Hurricane. Garrison also earned the league's player of the week for the period Nov. 23-29, after posting one of the most impressive all-around performances in Missouri State history with a 35-point, 17-rebound effort to propel the Lady Bears to a 73-65 win over Arkansas State (Nov. 27) in Jonesboro.
Hand it Over
Missouri State is leading the Missouri Valley Conference in team assists, coming into Monday's game with a 15.3 apg. average. Casey Garrison's 6.1 assist per-game average is tops in the circuit, while Jaleshia Roberson ranks 12th among all Valley players with a 2.6 apg. average.
Garrison's 13-assist performance vs. Tulsa not only represented a new career high, but also set a JQH Arena record and helped the Lady Bears post their highest single-game assist total (25) in four seasons. Her total tied four others for the sixth-highest in school history and was the most recorded by a Missouri State player since March 8, 2003, when Kari Koch handed out 13 assists against Evansville.
Stealing the Show
Paced by the performance of sophomore guard Casey Garrison, Missouri State also leads the Valley in team steals. The Lady Bears are averaging 10.6 steals per outing, while Garrison is one of three Lady Bears to rank among the circuit's top performers in individual steals. The Bolivar, Mo., product is averaging 2.9 takeaways per game to rank second in the league, while Christiana Shorter and Jaleshia Roberson are also among the league's top 13 in steals. Shorter ranks 11th with a 1.7 spg. average, while Roberson is right on her heels in 13th with an average of 1.4 steals per game.
Free and Easy
As was their calling card in 2008-09, the Lady Bears are once again gaining a measurable advantage at the free throw line. Through their first 16 games of the season, the Lady Bears are outscoring the opposition by a 295-201 margin at the foul line and lead the Valley in both free throws made and attempted. MSU has attempted at least 20 free throws 12 times and has put up 112 more charity tosses than its opponents, an average of +7.0 per outing so far this season. Additionally, three Lady Bears rank among the MVC's top 15 free throw shooters coming into the weekend. Casey Garrison is 10th in the circuit with a season mark of .827 from the stripe, while Jaleshia Roberson's .821 percentage is the sixth-best mark in the conference. Lacey Boshe has also been consistent from the foul line, shooting .797 coming into the week, which is good for 14th overall in the MVC.
Garrison knocked down her 200th career foul shot in her 45th game as a Lady Bear Saturday at Creighton. She reached the mark faster than all but two previous Lady Bears, trailing only Jackie Stiles (33 games) and Jessie McVay (43 games) in games required to convert 200 free throws. The Bolivar, Mo., native needs just 70 more makes to crack the MSU career top 10 chart for free throws made.
Turning Up the Heat
At Oral Roberts (Dec. 19), the Lady Bears posted their best single-game shooting performance (.544) since hitting 57.6 percent of their field goal attempts against Texas A&M on March 24, 2005. The Lady Bears were even better in their 15-point win at Creighton (Jan. 9), finishing 30-of-55 (.545) from the floor.
MSU's 99 points at ORU also represented its top offensive showing since March 8, 2003, when it recorded a 107-53 win over Evansville, and its best offensive effort on the road in nearly 18 years, dating back to a 109-45 win at Western Illinois on Feb. 13, 1992.
Missouri State saw its six-game win streak come to an end with last Thursday's loss at Drake, but the Lady Bears posted some impressive offensive numbers during the streak. Missouri State shot .455 from the floor, including .406 from beyond the arc, and outscored the opposition at the foul line by a 118-63 margin while hitting 77.6 percent of its free throw attempts during the six-game stretch. MSU outscored the opposition by an average of 11.7 points and recorded 17.2 assists per contest.
On an individual level, Casey Garrison was red-hot in all phases of the game. The sophomore guard connected on 52.9 percent of her field goal tries and 30-of-33 (.909) of her free throw attempts, while averaging 18.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.0 assists per outing. Jaleshia Roberson (17.5 ppg.) connected on 22-of-48 (.458) three-point attempts, while Lacey Boshe (12.2 ppg.) shot .522 from the field and .926 from the foul line over the course of the streak.
Out In Front
Missouri State's 2-0 MVC start was its first since the 2003-04 season. Historically speaking, however, getting out in front of the pack in conference play is nothing new to the Lady Bears. In their 18 seasons in the Valley, the Lady Bears have won their first two games on nine occasions, winning the Valley regular-season title four times and finishing no lower than third in the standings in any of those years. Including MSU's nine seasons in the Gateway Conference, the Lady Bears have advanced to the postseason in nine of the 11 years they have started 2-0 in league play.
With their win over league-leading Creighton, the Lady Bears put the brakes on a recent cold spell against their Valley neighbors to the north. The northern reaches of the Missouri Valley Conference have not been kind to the Lady Bears over the past few years, as MSU had won just two road games against Creighton, Drake, Bradley and UNI combined over the preceding four seasons. Including Thursday's loss to Drake in Des Moines, MSU had dropped 16 of their last 18 games away from home against the four northernmost schools in the Valley. Prior to last Saturday's win at CU, the Lady Bears had lost nine straight on the road vs. Drake and Creighton, and MSU was a combined 3-14 against the two schools on their home floors since the 2001-02 season.
With their win over Bradley on Dec. 31, the Lady Bears improved to 12-6 in Missouri Valley Conference openers and 19-8 overall in conference lid-lifters since formal competition began in the Gateway in 1983.
The win was the third for Missouri State over Bradley in three MVC openers. MSU claimed an 87-74 road win over the Braves (1/1/05) to open the 2004-05 MVC slate, as well as an 82-77 victory (12/29/01) at Hammons Student Center to kick-off the 2001-02 conference season.
Double Your Trouble
With her 32-point effort at ORU, Jaleshia Roberson joined fellow sophomore Casey Garrison in the Lady Bears' 30-point club, making the duo the first set of MSU teammates to top the 30-point barrier in the same season in nine years. The last Missouri State teammates to post 30-point performances during the course of the same season were Jackie Stiles and Tara Mitchem, who accomplished the feat during the Lady Bears' Final Four campaign of 2000-01.
Additionally, with her career-high 36-point effort at Drake on Jan. 7, Roberson became the first Lady Bear to post multiple 30+ point games in the same season since Tahnee Balerio recorded four such games in 2006-07. Roberson is just the 12th Lady Bear on record to score 30 or better in more than one contest in a given season.
Dial It Up
After shooting just under 27 percent from long range through their first three games of the season, the Lady Bears have heated up from three-point land over the last 12 games. MSU has shot .413 (83-of-201) from beyond the arc over that stretch, and its 13 three-pointers at ORU represented its best single-game total since Feb. 16, 2008, when it went 13-of-24 in a home win over UNI.
Additionally, the Lady Bears' eight threes vs. Tulsa (Dec. 8) represented a Missouri State high in JQH Arena. The Lady Bears had not hit more than six treys in any of their previous 17 contests in their new home. MSU has connected at least once from long range in 64 straight games and in 270 of its last 272 games dating back to the 2000-01 season.
Through the first 16 games of the season, the Lady Bears are outrebounding their opponents by an average of 0.1 boards per contest, finishing with the edge in total rebounds in 10 of their 16 contests. While it may be too early to draw any conclusions, those figures lie in stark contrast to last season when MSU was outperformed on the boards by an average of 2.5 rebounds per game. Furthermore, the Lady Bears finished with an advantage in total rebounds in just nine of their 30 games last year.
In Rare Company
Twice this season sophomore guard Casey Garrison has achieved feats only one previous player in Missouri State history had accomplished prior to the 2009-10 campaign. With her 35-point, 17-rebound performance at Arkansas State (Nov. 27), the sophomore guard joined Cindy Henderson (37 points/24 rebounds on Jan. 20, 1975) as the only other Lady Bear on record to score at least 35 points and record at least 15 rebounds in a single game. It was Garrison's second career double-double consisting of 30 points or more, making her only the fourth MSU player on record (along with Henderson, Jeanette Tendai and Jenni Lingor) to record more than one such game in her career.
Garrison quite possibly topped that effort on Dec. 8 vs. Tulsa when she became the second Lady Bear to record a triple-double with an 11-point, 11-rebound, 13-assist performance against the Golden Hurricane. MSU assistant coach Carly (Deer) Stubblefield was the only other Lady Bear to accomplish the feat (Jan. 23, 1998).
Buzz Cracks Century Mark
Senior guard Melissa Busby enters Monday's game tied for ninth on the school's all-time three-point field goals list with 120. MSU's active leader in games played (88), Busby also has a chance to climb further on the three-point attempts chart, coming into the contest seventh all-time with 363 tries from beyond the arc. The Edmond, Okla., native matched Jamie Bartlett for the ninth spot on the career three-point field goals list by going 1-of-2 from long range in Saturday's win over Indiana State and needs 32 more attempts to catch Sarah Klaassen (395) in the sixth position on the career attempts chart.