Lady Bears Open Second Half of MVC Slate Against Creighton
Missouri State Lady Bears (6-14, 2-7 MVC)vs. Creighton Bluejays (12-8, 7-2 MVC)
When: Friday, Feb. 6, 2009 at 7:35 p.m. Where: JQH Arena (Springfield, Mo.)
Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM TV: Fox Sports Midwest (MVC TV) Live Stats: http://www.missouristatebears.com/
The Missouri State Lady Bears return home following their longest road swing of the 2008-09 season Friday (Feb. 6) when they host the Creighton Bluejays in a 7:35 p.m. contest that will air live on Fox Sports Midwest in southwest Missouri as part of the Missouri Valley Conference’s TV package.
After picking up their first road win of the season last Thursday (Jan. 29) at Evansville, the Lady Bears stumbled out of the gate at Southern Illinois Saturday (Jan. 31), and could not overcome a 19-point halftime deficit in a 69-58 loss. Creighton enters the second half of the MVC schedule on a seven-game win streak, just one game behind league-leading Illinois State. The Bluejays current hot streak started with a resounding 92-63 victory over the Lady Bears in Omaha on Jan. 8, in which CU shot nearly 59 percent from the floor and buried a Missouri State opponent-record 15 three-point field goals.
The Lady Bears still hold a commanding 26-14 edge in the series with Creighton, including a 17-2 mark against the Jays in Springfield.
With their loss at SIU on Saturday, the Lady Bears fell to 2-7 in league play, matching the 2006-07 team for the program’s worst start to a conference season through nine games
MSU has won six straight home games against Creighton
Casey Garrison’s 16.3 ppg. scoring average is tops among all true freshmen in Division I
women’s basketball; the 5-11 guard ranks second in scoring in the MVC and remains on course to become the first Lady Bear to lead her club in scoring, rebounding and assists as a freshman
Last Time Out
Southern Illinois dominated Missouri State in the first half, then held off a late Lady Bear rally to come away with a 69-58 victory Saturday (Jan. 31) at SIU Arena. The Salukis’ senior duo of Erica Smith and Jasmine Gibson combined for 43 points and 19 rebounds to help SIU earn its second straight Missouri Valley Conference win.
The victory for SIU came in spite of another career performance from freshman guard Jaleshia Roberson, who scored 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor and a 7-of-8 effort at the foul line to lead MSU’s second-half comeback attempt.
Southern Illinois came out of the gate on fire, hitting seven of its first nine field goals and reeling off 12 unanswered points over a four and-a-half minute stretch to turn a tie game into a 17-5 Saluki lead. The SIU defense played a big role in the run, holding the Lady Bears without a field goal for over nine minutes. For the half, the Salukis would limit MSU to just 6-of-19 (.316) shooting from the floor, while forcing 13 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
The Salukis shot .457 from the floor, including 4-of-10 from three-point range, and dominated the Lady Bears on the glass, finishing with a 21-12 rebounding advantage in the opening period.
The Lady Bears scored the first six points coming out of the break to cut the SIU lead to 13 points, but Gibson buried a long three and Katrina Swingler knocked down a jumper on the Salukis next possession to turn the momentum back in SIU’s favor.
Missouri State would make a late charge at the Salukis behind the play of Roberson, who poured home 22 of her 26 points in the second half. It marked the second consecutive game the Grandview, Mo., native exceeded her career scoring high, following a 19-point performance at in a 76-63 win at Evansville on Thursday (Jan. 29).
After SIU had taken its largest lead of the day with 6:50 to play, the Lady Bears went on a 19-6 scoring run to pull to within 64-56 with just under two minutes to play. Roberson would score 11 straight MSU points over a three-minute stretch, but SIU turned back the threat by sinking 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch, including 5-of-7 by Smith.
Smith sparked the Saluki offense with 12 of her 20 points on the day in the first half, as the senior guard knocked down four field goals during the Salukis’ critical scoring spurt. She would finish with game-highs of 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead the SIU attack. Gibson tallied a team-high 23 points, including 14 after intermission, to go along with seven boards and a pair of steals.
Casey Garrison also finished in double figures for MSU, finishing with 15 points and team-highs of nine boards, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
The Lady Bears recovered from their lackluster first-half shooting effort to conclude the day 20-of-54 (.370) from the floor. MSU was strong from the foul line, hitting 11-of-12 (.917) second-half free throw tries.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, ’85) is in her second season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 17-33 mark as the Lady Bears’ mentor and an overall record of 202-69 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 8 for a complete bio)
Jim Flanery (Creighton, ’87) is 121-88 in his seventh season as head coach of the Bluejays. The Guthrie Center, Iowa, native guided Creighton to consecutive 24-9 seasons in his first two years at the helm. His 2002-03 team shared the MVC regular-season title, and the 2003-04 Bluejay squad captured the WNIT championship. Prior to accepting the head coaching job at Creighton, Flanery served as an assistant coach under Connie Yori for 10 seasons at CU, helping the Bluejays compile a 170-115 record over that period.
In 15 games against Missouri State, Flanery’s teams have compiled a 6-9 mark with four of those victories coming in Omaha.
Missouri State holds a 26-14 advantage in the series with the Bluejays, including a 5-5 mark in the last 10 meetings between the two programs. The Lady Bears have dominated the series in Springfield, winning 17 of the previous 19 match-ups.
The Bluejays have taken three of the last four meetings between the two schools, including a convincing 92-63 win in Omaha on Jan. 8.
The Bluejays, picked to finish second in the MVC in this year’s preseason poll following a 21-12 campaign in 2007-08, and have done little to disappoint through the first half of the conference season. CU enters Friday’s contest on a seven-game win streak after dropping its first two Valley games. The Jays lost a pair of key contributors in the opening weeks of the season when senior guard Michelle Kaus went down with a torn ACL, and junior forward Sam Schuett suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Picking up the slack for CU has been junior guard Chevelle Herring (14.6 ppg.), sophomore guard Kelsey Woodard (12.8 ppg.) and junior forward Megan Neuvirth (12.8 ppg./9.4 rpg.). The Valley’s fourth-leading scorer, Herring ranks seventh in the conference in three-point shooting percentage (.385). Neuvirth is the MVC’s top rebounder and is the only Valley player other than MSU’s Casey Garrison to rank in the league’s top 10 for scoring, rebounding and assists. Woodard is CU’s top threat from long range, having connected on 54-of-137 (.394) tries from beyond the arc. As a team, Creighton has the MVC’s top scoring defense (57.5 ppg.) and three-point field goal percentage (.387). The Bluejays are also averaging league-best marks of 14.0 turnovers and 7.2 three-point field goals made per game.
Lady Bears vs. Creighton
In the first match-up of the season between the Lady Bears and Bluejays, CU blistered the nets en route to a 29-point win in Omaha. The Bluejays established a new single-game record for a Missouri State opponent by knocking down 15 three-point field goals, recorded 26 assists and shot just under 59 percent from the floor overall. The Lady Bears turned in a respectable offensive performance, hitting on 50 percent of their field goal tries, but turned the ball over 20 times. Casey Garrison led MSU with 15 points, while Jacque Griggs chipped in 11 to go along with a team-high seven boards.
Hall of Fame Happenings
Missouri State will induct seven individuals into its Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday (Feb. 7). The 2009 class that includes Jackie Stiles (women’s basketball, 1997-2001), Johnny Murdock (men’s basketball, 1991-95), Bill O’Neill (coach/administrator, 1970-2008), Mark Stillwell (SID/administrator, 1972-2008), Keith Champion (baseball 1978-81), Kate Madden (softball 1993-96) and Brianne (McGuirk) Calvert (swimming, 1999-2003), will also be recognized at halftime of Friday night’s game.
Mags on the Move
If the last 12 games are any indication of things to come, Maggie Dwyer has forgotten about her early-season struggles and is primed to return to the form that netted her MVC Newcomer of the Year honors in 2007-08. Over MSU’s last 12 outings, the senior forward has averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest, and has connected on just over 38 percent of her field goal tries and 82 percent of her attempts from the foul line. Those figures show marked improvement from her production over the first eight games of the season, when she shot just 24.5 percent from the floor and 55.3 percent from the charity stripe to average 5.9 points and 3.5 boards per game. Dwyer posted back-to-back double-doubles against Wichita State and Evansville and enters Friday’s game having scored in double figures in four out of her last five contests.
Number 5 Leaving Her Mark
With the 2008-09 season just beyond its half-way point, Casey Garrison’s 16.3 ppg. scoring average is the top mark for a true freshman in all of Division I women’s basketball. The 5-11 guard is on pace to become the Lady Bears’ No. 2 freshman scorer since MSU made the move to Division I status in 1982. Garrison’s 325 points through the first 20 games of the season have already vaulted her to a tie for sixth place on the list. She passed Lisa Davies and equaled Patty Porter’s freshman scoring total with her 15-point effort at Southern Illinois on Saturday. Garrison needs 30 points to catch Karen Rapier in the fifth spot on the chart.
Jackie Stiles is the current MSU freshman scoring leader, having poured home 618 points during the 1997-98 campaign.
Garrison is also on target to become the first Lady Bear freshman to lead MSU in scoring, rebounding and assists over a complete season. The Bolivar, Mo., product is averaging team-highs of 16.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. She has led MSU in scoring 15 times, assists 11 times and rebounds eight times.
Freshman guard Jaleshia Roberson enters Friday’s game on a tear after eclipsing her career scoring high in each of MSU’s last two games. In the Lady Bears’ last five contests, Roberson has scored in double figures each time, averaging 16.5 points while recording team highs of 2.6 assists and 2.2 steals per outing. This past week, she came off the MSU bench to average 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game in two contests to earn MVC Newcomer of the Week honors.
She totaled 16 of her 19 points versus Evansville in the second half to help seal the Lady Bears’ first road win of the season on Thursday (Jan. 29). The Grandview, Mo., native scored 11 points in the first 6:13 of the second stanza and connected on 5-of-7 attempts from both the field and the foul line after the break to help the Lady Bears snap a 10-game road losing streak. She also pulled down a career-best seven rebounds and matched another career-high with four steals.
Against Southern Illinois on Saturday (Jan. 31), Roberson was even better, pouring home 22 second-half points en route to establishing a new career scoring high for the second consecutive game with a 26-point afternoon. She was a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line and 7-of-11 from the floor after intermission.
Inside the Numbers
Missouri State continues to lead the Missouri Valley Conference in steals per game, entering the weekend with a 9.2 spg. average. The Lady Bears are third in team scoring (62.5 ppg.) and rate ninth in scoring defense (66.6). 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), rebounding (10th), free throw percentage (third), assists (eighth), assist-turnover ratio (sixth), offensive rebounds (fourth) and steals (sixth).
On the strength of her second career double-double, Casey Garrison earned a clean sweep of the Missouri Valley Conference’s weekly awards for the period of January 12-18. The 5-11 guard was named MVC Player of the Week for the first time in her career, in addition to garnering her fourth MVC Newcomer of the Week honor this season after turning in an 18-point, 11-rebound performance to help the Lady Bears pick up their first Valley victory of the season.
In addition to registering game highs for points and rebounds, Garrison recorded a game-high five assists and totaled 14 points after intermission in a 77-53 MSU win (Jan. 17) that sent Indiana State to its first MVC loss in five games. In all, Garrison went 7-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-5 at the charity stripe. Her 11 boards matched a career high and played a key role in MSU dominating the Sycamores on the glass by a 52-37 margin.
Garrison was previously honored as the league’s top newcomer Nov. 24, Dec. 8 and Dec. 22. The Bolivar, Mo., product becomes the first Valley women’s basketball player to earn both awards in the same week since Creighton’s Kelsey Woodard accomplished the feat last February 4, and the first Lady Bear to earn the league’s player of the week honor since Tahnee Balerio did so on Dec. 22, 2006.
On the Road Again
Missouri State has found the road to be an unfriendly place over the last four seasons. MSU is 1-7 in road games this season after knocking off Evansville last Thursday and has gone just 6-41 in road contests since 2004-05. Including neutral court contests, MSU has lost 45 out of its last 53 games away from its home floor. Six of those eight 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 were the most recorded by a Lady Bear squad since the 2004-05 campaign.
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.
Power in the Paint
The Lady Bears dominated Indiana State on the interior on Jan. 17, finishing with sizable advantages in total rebounds, points in the paint and blocked shots. MSU’s 52 rebounds represented a season high and the most registered by the Lady Bears since Nov. 20, 2007, when they grabbed 52 boards in a loss at Arkansas State. The Lady Bears’ seven blocks was also a season high and the most by MSU since Dec. 4, 2007 against Tulsa. Missouri State also enjoyed a solid shooting day versus the Sycamores, connecting on 25-of-41 (.610) field goal attempts inside the three-point arc and shooting 46.3 percent overall from the field.
In losses to Illinois State and Wichita State, however, the Lady Bears were outscored by a 70-40 margin in the paint. Illinois State manhandled MSU on the boards, finishing with a 47-32 advantage for the game, and both ISU and WSU blocked eight Lady Bear shots in their respective contests against MSU.
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 202-69 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 389-146 (.727) in 19 seasons.
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 14 outings. MSU has knocked down 246-of-338 (.728) free throws, outscoring the opposition by 83 points at the foul line over the 14-game stretch.
Missouri State’s .707 team free throw percentage ranks fifth in The Valley, but both its 318 made free throws and 450 attempts lead the circuit. Casey Garrison has been the most proficient Valley player in getting to the line, making a league-leading 118 trips to the stripe and converting 96 of those, also tops in the conference.
The Lady Bears have connected from three-point range a minimum of three times in 15 of their 20 games this season and have hit at least one triple in 38 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 196 of 198 games, highlighted by a 129-game stretch where they connected at least once from long distance in each outing.
For the 19th time in 20 games this season, a freshman led the Lady Bears in scoring in MSU’s 69-58 loss at Southern Illinois on Saturday, as Jaleshia Roberson poured home a career-high 26 points to lead MSU’s attack.
Four of the Lady Bears’ top six 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 70.7 percent of the Lady Bears’ offense in their nine home dates. Garrison continues to pace the Missouri State offense, scoring at an 17.7 ppg. clip in JQH Arena, while Lacey Boshe is nearly scoring in double figures at home with a 9.7 ppg. average. Garrison and Jasmine Malone have combined to knock down 62-of-76 (.816) 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.
On this Date...
February 6, 1999 Missouri State 73, Wichita State 70 Jackie Stiles’ buzzer-beating three-pointer sent a standing-room-only crowd of 9,115 home happy, as the Lady Bears prevailed in a see-saw battle. After WSU’s Courtney Sims drained a trey to tie the game with 2.3 seconds left on the clock, Carly Deer caught Melody Campbell’s pass at the free throw line, then dished the ball to Stiles on the right wing for the game winner.
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 88 times in 62 career games entering Friday’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 Friday’s game with 274 tries from beyond the arc, which is three 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 206-87 all-time against Valley opponents with a 120-26 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.