Missouri State Lady Bears (13-6, 5-3 MVC) vs. Evansville Purple Aces (4-15, 1-7 MVC) Dates: Saturday, January 30, 2010Time: 2:05 p.m.Site: Roberts Stadium (11,600)Location: Evansville, Ind.Radio: KWTO AM 560 (Rob Evans)TV: Mediacom MC-22 (Don West, Whitney Scott)Live Audio: www.radiospringfield.com Live Stats and Video: GoPurpleAces.com
The Missouri State Lady Bears will look to build some momentum heading into the second half of the Missouri Valley Conference season Saturday afternoon when they meet the Evansville Purple Aces at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, Ind.
Missouri State will be shooting for its second straight victory following Thursday's 69-68 win at Southern Illinois. The Lady Bears halted a two-game losing streak with their victory over the Salukis, getting the go-ahead basket with just six seconds left on the clock. Evansville also notched a landmark victory Thursday, knocking off Wichita State in overtime for its first Valley win of the season.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live in southwest Missouri on Mediacom (MC-22), with Don West and Whitney Scott describing the action.
► Missouri State opponents are shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and outrebounding the Lady Bears by an average of 3.6 boards per outing in MVC play
►Missouri State's team scoring average (76.7) leads the MVC and ranks 18th in the nation (through Thursday); the Lady Bears' defense (72.2), however rated as the No. 9 scoring defense in the league and just 316th out of 332 Division I teams
►With her 22-point outing at SIU Thursday, Casey Garrison moved into 28th on the Lady Bears' career scoring list and enters Saturday's game with 841 points in 49 career games; she needs 24 points to catch Cindy Hauter for the 27th spot on the chart
►MSU leads the Valley in overall team assists (14.7 apg.), but ranks just seventh in conference play in the same category, entering Saturday's game with a 12.1 apg., average in its eight MVC contests
►The Lady Bears' 69-68 win over SIU Thursday marked their first victory in a one-point game since a Feb. 12, 2005 win over Indiana State; MSU is now 13-10 all-time in one-point games
Missouri State brings a 24-9 series advantage over Evansville into Saturday's game. MSU has won nine of the previous 16 meetings in Evansville, as well as 13 of the last 19 games overall in the series.
The Lady Bears swept the Purple Aces last year, claiming a pair of 13-point victories. Behind Jaleshia Roberson's 11 points in the first six minutes of the second half, the Lady Bears used a 13-4 scoring run to turn a seven-point halftime lead into a 45-29 advantage. MSU would go on to post a 76-63 win (Jan. 29), its first over the Purple Aces in Evansville since the 2003-04 season. In the second match-up of the season, the Lady Bears got a season-high 22 points from senior Maggie Dwyer and shot 55 percent from the floor in the second half to pull away with an 80-67 (Feb. 27) victory at JQH Arena.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her third season at Missouri State with a 34-45 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 219-81 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.
Misty Murphy (Colorado State, '98) is 19-34 in her second year as head coach of Evansville and 127-99 overall in eight years as a collegiate head coach. Last year, Murphy guided the Purple Aces to just the second MVC tourney title and NCAA appearance in school history. She accepted the UE job in 2008 after helping guide Rice to a pair of postseason appearances and a 51-46 mark in three years as an assistant coach. Murphy spent four years as a Division II head coach at Colorado State-Pueblo, where she went 66-46 and won a pair of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles. The Grand Junction, Colo., native also headed the Sheridan College program from 1999-2001, leading her team to back-to-back Region IX North Sub-Region titles at the junior college level.
Scouting the Lady Bears
Picked to finish seventh in the MVC's preseason poll, Missouri State has gotten balanced contributions across the board, as six players are averaging 7.5 points or more per game through the first 19 games of the season. Sophomore Casey Garrison is the top scorer (19.2 ppg.) and assister in the MVC, ranking 13th nationally in assists per game (6.0) and 20th in scoring through Thursday's games. Garrison also rates among the circuit's leaders in offensive rebounding (1st-3.3 rpg.), minutes played (1st-36.3 mpg.), assist-turnover ratio (2nd-2.0), steals (2nd-2.9 spg.), rebounding (5th-7.6 rpg.), free throw percentage (8th-.833) and field goal percentage (9th-.496). Freshman forward Christiana Shorter is the fifth-leading rebounder (8.1 rpg.) among all Valley players in conference play. The Tulsa native is eighth overall in the MVC in steals per game (1.9) and third on the team with a 9.8 ppg., scoring average. Sophomore forward Lacey Boshe is MSU's fourth-leading scorer, averaging 9.6 ppg., while her .504 field goal percentage leads the club and ranks eighth in the conference coming into the weekend. The Lady Bears' No. 2 scorer, sophomore Jaleshia Roberson (14.2 ppg.), has two 30+ point games to her credit so far this season and ranks 27th in the country with an average of 2.8 three-pointers per outing.
As a team, Missouri State's scoring average (76.7 ppg.) was the 18th-best in all of Division I women's basketball, while it's three-point field goal percentage (.360) ranked 45th nationally coming into the weekend.
Scouting the Purple Aces
Evansville returns six letterwinners and two starters from last year's 15-19 squad that charged through the field at the State Farm MVC Tournament with four victories in four days to secure the program's second-ever NCAA Tournament berth. The Purple Aces faced a challenging non-conference slate that included the likes of seven post-season qualifiers from a year ago. UE won three of its 11 pre-conference games before stumbling through the first half of the MVC season and dropping its first seven Valley match-ups before a five-point overtime win over Wichita State on Thursday ended its drought. Last in the MVC in scoring offense (57.8 ppg.), Evansville has struggled to find a consistent go-to weapon. One of just two seniors on UE's inexperienced roster, Amy Gallagher leads the way with a 10.8 ppg., average. No other player averages more than 6.7 points per outing, but the Purple Aces make up for a lack of scoring punch with a balanced cast featuring six players scoring between 5.4 and 6.7 points per outing. Gallagher receives help on the perimeter from sophomore Jordan Lewis (6.7 ppg.), freshman Kaylan Martin (6.6 ppg.) and junior Stephanie Bamberger (5.7 ppg.). On the interior, freshman Samantha Heck (6.1 ppg.) and sophomore Chelsea Falkenstein (6.0 ppg.) are carrying the load, entering the weekend with matching 5.2 rebound per-game averages to share the team lead in that category.
Despite giving up a league-worst 72.9 points per game, Evansville does feature the MVC's top three-point field goal defense. The Purple Aces are holding the opposition to just 28.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc, the 51st-best figure among all Division I teams.
That's More Like It
With their 69-68 win over Southern Illinois on Thursday, the Lady Bears notched their 13th victory of the season, which is their top total in three years under Nyla Milleson. MSU's 13 wins is the second-highest total in the MVC entering the weekend, and coupled with its 5-3 league mark, represents quite a turnaround from a year ago, when the Lady Bears managed just two wins in their first eight Valley games and a league-low six victories overall through the first half of the conference season.
Take a Number
In just her 48th career game, sophomore guard Casey Garrison topped the 800-point plateau and moved onto Missouri State's career top 30 scoring list with last Saturday's 21-point effort vs. Wichita State. After passing Tonya Baucom for the 28th spot on the chart with Thursday's 22-point performance at SIU, Garrison enters Saturday's contest with 841 points in 49 career games, good for an average of 17.2 ppg., the second-highest mark in school history behind Jackie Stiles's 26.1 career scoring mark.
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 last 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.
Hand It Over
Missouri State is leading the Missouri Valley Conference in team assists, coming into Saturday's game with a 14.7 apg. average. Casey Garrison's 6.0 assist per-game average is tops in the circuit, while Jaleshia Roberson ranks 12th among all Valley players with a 2.7 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 10.7 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 freshman forward Christiana Shorter is eighth in the MVC with a 1.9 spg., average. Sophomore Jaleshia Roberson is also among the league leaders in steals, as her 1.4 spg., mark is the 15th-highest in the MVC coming into the weekend.
Missouri State saw its six-game win streak come to an end with an 88-84 loss at Drake (Jan. 7), 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.
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 19 games of the season, the Lady Bears are outscoring the opposition by a 351-239 margin at the foul line and lead the Valley in both free throws made and attempted by wide margins. MSU has attempted at least 20 free throws 14 times and has put up 137 more charity tosses than its opponents, an average of +7.2 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 eighth in the circuit with a season mark of .833 from the stripe, while Lacey Boshe's .815 percentage is the 10th-best mark in the conference. Jaleshia Roberson has also been consistent from the foul line, shooting .792 coming into Saturday's game, which is good for 12th overall in the MVC.
Garrison knocked down her 200th career foul shot in her 45th game as a Lady Bear at Creighton (Jan. 9). 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. Saturday's loss to Wichita State marked the first time this season just the second in 48 career games Garrison had been shutout at the foul line.The Bolivar, Mo., native needs just 64 more makes to crack the MSU career top 10 chart for free throws made.
Buzz Bombs Away
Senior guard Melissa Busby enters Saturday's game ninth on the school's all-time three-point field goals list with 123. MSU's active leader in games played (91), Busby also has a chance to climb further on the three-point attempts chart, coming into the contest seventh all-time with 375 tries from beyond the arc. The Edmond, Okla., native moved past Jamie Bartlett for sole possession of the ninth spot on the career three-point field goals list by going 1-of-5 from long range in MSU's loss to Illinois State and needs 23 more attempts to catch Sarah Klaassen (395) in the sixth position on the career attempts chart.
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.
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 outings 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.
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).
MSU Peaks in The Valley
The Lady Bears are 215-94 all-time in MVC play with a 126-29 home record against league foes. Missouri State has won at least a share of 11 regular-season titles and nine conference tournaments since the 1989-90 season. MSU has played in 10 of the 17 Valley tournament championship games and 12 of the 24 title games since the inception of the Gateway Conference Tournament in 1983.
Missouri State All-Time
Missouri State is in its 41st season of women's collegiate basketball and has an all-time record of 687-481 (.588). MSU began formal competition in 1969 and has now posted 26 winning seasons and made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances. The Lady Bears advanced to the Final Four in 1992 and 2001 and the Sweet Sixteen in 1993. The Lady Bears are in their 28th NCAA Division I season and 18th MVC year. MSU was in AIAW competition on the state, regional and national levels through the 1981-82 season, moved to Division I and Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference play in 1982-83 and started MVC competition in 1992-93 when the Gateway merged with The Valley.