The Missouri State Lady Bears will try to snap out of a recent funk that has seen them drop three of their last four contests Thursday (Feb. 17) when they take on the Wichita State Shockers at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita in a 5:35 p.m. game. The Shockers, who have lost four of their last five, will be looking to extend a five-game home win streak in the series.
After posting a 63-50 victory at Indiana State to begin its two-game road swing last Thursday, Missouri State stumbled Saturday at Illinois State in a 78-59 loss to the Redbirds. MSU yielded a season-high .574 shooting day to Illinois State, as four Redbirds finished in double figures to help keep ISU perfect at home on the season. Casey Garrison provided one of the few bright spots for MSU, finishing with 19 points and three steals.
Wichita State is coming off of losses to both Indiana State and Illinois State last weekend. The Shockers dropped a 69-60 decision in Normal, as well as a 65-57 contest to the Sycamores in Terre Haute. WSU will also be aiming to pay back MSU for a 71-41 defeat in the two clubs' first meeting of the season Jan. 21 in Springfield. The Shockers have won 10 of the last 13 match-ups against the Lady Bears, dating back to January 2006.
►Missouri State is 6-1 this season following a loss; the Lady Bears have averaged 70.9 points while allowing just 57.3 to the opposition in those games
►With their win at Indiana State last Thursday, the Lady Bears are also now 4-0 in games following their second straight loss over the last two seasons; MSU has not dropped three straight games since March 2009
►Naismith Trophy candidate Casey Garrison (1,587 points) moved past Roshonda Reed into seventh place on the Lady Bears' career scoring chart with her 20-point performance vs. UNI (Feb. 6); she needs 54 more points to catch Lynn Strubberg (1,641) in the No. 6 spot on the list and 182 to move into the top 5 (Jeanette Tendai with 1,769 points)
►Garrison has knocked down 113-of-122 (.926) free throws on the season to lead the MVC and rank second in all of Division I; she hit a school-record 37 straight attempts from Dec. 5 through Jan. 21, has seven different streaks of at least nine straight makes from the foul line this season and enters Thursday's game having hit her last 14 free throws
►Garrison needs four assists to climb into the Missouri State career top 10
►With a 7-4 road record entering play this week, Missouri State needs two more road victories to match its biggest win total on the road since the 1991-92 season
►Missouri State leads the Valley in total rebounding (44.4 rpg), field goal percentage defense (.336), defensive rebounding (29.6 rpg), offensive rebounding (14.8 rpg) and blocked shots (6.2)
►The Lady Bears rank fifth nationally in blocked shots per game and seventh in field goal percentage defense
►In conference play, MSU is the top scoring (69.7 ppg) club in the league; the Lady Bears also pace the circuit in free throw percentage (.772), rebounding (42.5 rpg) and offensive rebounding (14.9 rpg) in MVC play
►Three Lady Bears rank among the top 10 individuals in offensive rebounding in MVC play; Christiana Shorter (3.5 rpg) leads the league, while Tia Mays is tied for fifth and Garrison ranks ninth
►Missouri State has kept nine opponents under .300 shooting and has held a total of 13 teams to 32 percent or less from the field this season; prior to the start of this year, the Lady Bears had held just four of their previous 93 foes below the 30 percent mark during Milleson's tenure
►With two rejections against Illinois State (Feb. 12), Mays upped her MSU single-season record for blocks to 87; Mays broke Sharon Zeilmann's 24-year-old MSU single-season record of 75 rejections vs. Bradley (Feb. 4) and leads the MVC (3.5 bpg) and ranks sixth nationally in blocks per game
►Jasmine Malone ranks fifth and Garrison is eighth in the Valley in steals (2.0) per game during conference play
►Shorter leads the MVC in offensive rebounding (3.1 rpg) and ranks second in total rebounding (8.2 rpg) and third in field goal percentage (.500); she ranks among the Valley's top 10 in a total of five individual statistical categories and enters Thursday's game eighth in the conference in scoring (13.5 ppg) during MVC play
Scouting the Lady Bears
With 10 letterwinners and four starters back from last year's 22-11 team that finished tied for third in the Missouri Valley Conference to secure the program's first postseason bid in four years, the Lady Bears enter the 2010-11 season as the MVC's preseason favorite. Leading the way for Nyla Milleson's fourth MSU team will be returning All-MVC performers Casey Garrison and Jaleshia Roberson, who were named to the league's preseason all-conference team. The junior duo formed arguably the deadliest one-two punch in the MVC-particularly during conference play-in 2009-10. In MSU's 18 Valley games, they combined for 36.1 points per outing, with Garrison's 20.4 ppg, average pacing all scorers by more than three points per game. They entered the 2010-11 season as two of the conference's top three returning scorers. The reigning Jackie Stiles MVC Player of the Year, Garrison spearheaded MSU's potent offense last year, finishing as the MVC's top scorer and steals leader. She became the first Lady Bear since Kari Koch in 2004 to receive all-region recognition from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association when she was named a Region 6 finalist for the organization's State Farm All-America Team.
Through the first 25 games of this season, Garrison is once again among the league leaders in a number of statistical categories, including free throw percentage (1st), three-point field goal percentage (1st), scoring (2nd), assist-turnover ratio (3rd) and assists (4th).
Garrison has received help in the back court from fellow junior Jasmine Malone, who ranks third on the team in scoring (10.5 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (5.6 rpg). Freshman Karly Buer, who enters Thursday's game fifth on the team with a 5.1 point per game average, has also been a key cog in the Lady Bear attack. A Concordia, Kan., native, Buer is third on the team in assists (38) after registering three straight games of at least 10 points and four assists (Nov. 20-30).
Also returning is the Valley's 2010 Freshman of the Year, Christiana Shorter. A Tulsa, Okla., native, Shorter finished her rookie campaign on a high note, registering five double-doubles in MSU's final six contests. Shorter enters Thursday's game leading the MVC in offensive rebounding (3.1 rpg), second in total rebounding (8.2 rpg) and third in field goal percentage (.500), while her 12.3 ppg average is second on the squad and 11th in the conference. Sophomore Tia Mays (4.4 ppg/6.6 rpg) has also played a critical role for MSU, leading the Lady Bears' defensive resurgence with a school-record 87 blocked shots (3.5 bpg).
Lady Bear Notables
►Missouri State has matched its best overall (17-8) start under Nyla Milleson, as well as its top mark through 25 games since the 2004-05 season
►Casey Garrison was named MVC Player of the Week for the fourth time this year and the eighth time of her career Jan. 31 after averaging 30.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists over two games vs. Creighton and Drake
►Tia Mays earned her first MVC Newcomer of the Week honor Jan. 17, and Christiana Shorter picked up her first MVC Player of the Week award Jan. 24 after claiming newcomer of the week honors four times last year
►The Lady Bears' 83 points vs. Lamar represented their highest opening-day offensive output since beating LSU, 85-75 to open the 2000-01 campaign
►After going winless on the road in November for over 26 years, Missouri State has claimed victory in two of its last three true road games over the last two seasons, but is still just 13-21 in the first month of the season since 2002-03
►The Lady Bears' win over SIU (Dec. 31) gave them a school-record seven wins in the month of December; MSU's 7-1 mark in December represents its best in any month since going 8-1 in January of 2005; the Lady Bears have won 16 of their last 18 December games over the last three years
►The Lady Bears set or matched five JQH Arena records Dec. 9 vs. SIU Edwardsville, including fewest points allowed (39), fewest points in a half (17), fewest field goals allowed (13), lowest field goal percentage allowed (.210) and widest margin of victory (+29)
►SIU Edwardsville's 39 points marked the lowest point total for a Lady Bear opponent since Jan. 1, 2004, when MSU held SLU to 33 points; it took the Lady Bears less than two weeks to hold another opponent to the same total, limiting Morgan State to 39 points on Dec. 21
►The Lady Bear defense limited Morgan State (Dec. 21) to just 14-of-72 (.194) shooting, marking the second-lowest single-game field goal percentage on record for a Missouri State opponent; that performance followed a similar effort vs. SIU Edwardsville (.210) on Dec. 9 which matched MSU's Jan. 22, 2004 performance vs. Texas-Pan American for the third-lowest single-game percentage
►Missouri State became the 30th Division I program to reach the 700-win mark with its Dec. 3 win over Eastern Michigan
►Mays's nine blocked shots against Arkansas State (Dec. 5) broke the Missouri State single-game record established by Sharon Zeilmann on two separate occasions; her effort also matched the all-time MVC mark held by UNI's Cassie Hager
►MSU was one of 17 Division I women's basketball programs to post a turnaround of at least +10 games or more last season; the Lady Bears' 12-game improvement was tied for the seventh-best in the nation
►MSU was 14th nationally in team scoring, 17th in FT percentage, 22nd in 3-FG percentage, 29th in steals, 37th in FG percentage and 47th in assists per game last year
►Missouri State's 591 free throws made in 2009-10 was more than four Valley teams attempted on the season and represented the fifth-highest team total in MVC history
►Garrison ranked 13th nationally in scoring and was the only NCAA Division I player in the country to rank among the top 35 in individual points, assists and steals per game last year
►Jaleshia Roberson's 91 three-point field goals last season was the second-highest total all-time at MSU and tied for third all-time in the Valley in a single season; Roberson moved past Jenni Lingor (2005) and Kari Koch (2006) by going 5-of-9 vs. Wichita State (March 12), and fell just 14 triples shy of Melody Howard's MSU record, set in 1994
Scouting the Shockers
Wichita State enters Thursday's game with an 11-13 overall record and a 5-8 mark in conference play following losses in four of its last five outings. Head coach Jody Adams has received balanced production across the board with seven players averaging over five points per game. Leading the way is junior guard Haleigh Lankster, who paces the club in scoring (11.9 ppg) and steals (1.9), ranking 13th and sixth in the Valley in the same two categories, respectively. Lankster is part of a deep perimeter rotation that also includes senior Morgan Boyd, sophomore Jessica Diamond and freshman BreAnna Dawkins. Boyd (8.8 ppg) is third on the team in scoring and enters the week with a team-high 34 three-point field goals. Diamond (9.5 ppg/3.1 apg) has struggled from beyond the arc, but has connected on over 78 percent of her foul shot attempts. Additionally, her assist-per-game average ranks seventh in the Valley and leads the club. Dawkins (6.2 ppg/3.1 apg) is right on her heels with the ninth-best assist-per-game average in the Valley, while also ranking eighth in steals per game (1.7 spg). In the paint, WSU is led by a trio of sophomores who combine for nearly 19 points and 14 rebounds per outing. Jazimen Gordon is the top scorer among the group with a 7.1 ppg average to go along with a team-high 33 blocked shots. Michelle Price (5.8 ppg/5.3 rpg) is the Shockers' top rebounder, who comes into the contest with the second-best field goal percentage (.483) on the club. Finally, Chynna Turner is contributing 5.9 points and 3.8 boards per game to the Wichita State cause.
The Shockers are outscoring the opposition by an average of 0.5 points per game and bring a +0.5 turnover margin for the season into Thursday's contest. WSU is fifth in the MVC in both scoring offense and defense, and its .413 team field goal percentage is the second-highest in the circuit.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her fourth season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 60-58 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 245-94 in 11 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 three of those years. Milleson was honored as Heartland Conference Coach of the Year three times, as Drury won six conference titles in all. Milleson is 3-6 against the Shockers and 0-3 vs. WSU on its home floor.
Jody Adams (Tennessee, '94) has compiled a 42-46 mark in her three years as the Shockers' head coach, leading WSU to a postseason appearance in the WBI last season. Adams was named the seventh coach in the history of the Wichita State program in 2008 after leading Murray State to a 24-8 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007-08, her first year as a collegiate head coach. Prior to taking the reins of the Racers' program, Adams spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Southern Illinois, helping guide the Salukis to the 2006-07 MVC regular-season title. The Cleveland, Tenn., native was a two-year starter at point guard at Tennessee for legendary head coach Pat Summitt, helping lead the Lady Vols to the 1991 NCAA National Championship.
Thursday's game will be the 70th meeting in the series, with Missouri State holding a 44-25 advantage, despite dropping five straight contests to the Shockers in Wichita and 10 of the last 13 match-ups between the two schools dating back to the 2005-06 season.
MSU did halt a four-game losing streak in the series last month in Springfield, besting WSU by a 71-41 score. The Lady Bears took advantage of 28 Shocker fouls to knock down a season-high 26 free throws to overcome a lackluster shooting performance from the field.
Over their five-game home win streak, the Shockers have won by an average margin of just 4.4 points, with last year's 73-65 decision representing the largest margin of victory during the same stretch. Overall, the Lady Bears have posted a 16-14 record against the Shockers in Wichita.
That's a Winner
With their over Indiana State Thursday, the Lady Bears locked up their second straight winning season under head coach Nyla Milleson and their 28th overall in 42 years as a varsity program. Missouri State has some work to do to match its longest stretch of consecutive winning seasons, however. The Lady Bears posted 17 straight finishes above the .500 mark from 1990 through 2006.
With their 1-3 start to the month of February, the Lady Bears have continued a recent trend of slow starts in the year's second month. Over the previous four seasons, MSU was a combined 7-13 in its first five games of the month. The Lady Bears have recovered in the second half of the month to finish with a cumulative 12-15 mark over the same stretch, including an 8-5 February record over the last two seasons.
Jekyll and Hyde
Through the first 13 games of the conference season, the Lady Bears have shown two distinct personalities that can be clearly illustrated with a quick look at the numbers. In their eight Valley wins, they have scored an average of 74.4 points while holding the opposition to just 53.6 points for a scoring margin of +20.8 points. MSU has also shot .414 from the field, and returning all-conference performers Casey Garrison, Jaleshia Roberson and Christiana Shorter have combined to average 42.4 points while shooting 122-of-276 (.442) as a group. Conversely, the trio has scored 36.0 ppg and shot just .358 (57-of-159) in their five MVC losses, as the Lady Bears have scored at a 62.2 ppg clip while giving up 73.2 points per outing. Most glaring is MSU's three-point field goal percentage defense, which has allowed just .245 shooting in the eight victories, but .420 in the five losses.
The Defense Never Rests
Missouri State's defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, entering the week with the seventh-best field goal percentage defense in the country. The Lady Bears held four straight opponents under .300 from the field from Dec. 3 through Dec. 12-a first in the 42-year history of the program. MSU has posted two of the best defensive efforts in school history, including a .194 effort at Morgan State that ranked as the second-lowest field goal percentage ever for a Lady Bear opponent.
The Lady Bears lead The Valley in field goal percentage defense and blocked shots. Led by Tia Mays's 3.5 blocks per game, the Lady Bears ranked fifth nationally in blocks per game as of Feb. 14. Mays has totaled 57 of her 87 blocks on the season in MSU's 14 home games.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
Casey Garrison's quest for the top spot on Missouri State's all-time chart for consecutive free throws made was fulfilled in the Lady Bears Jan. 16 victory over Indiana State. She went 6-of-6 from the stripe to stretch her string of consecutive makes to 33, surpassing Lisa Davies's 13-year-old school record. Garrison then sank her first four shots vs. Wichita State (Jan. 21) before misfiring on two straight attempts, marking her first misses at the stripe since Dec. 5. Garrison's streak of 37 straight free throws ranks fifth on the Valley's all-time list. She wasted little time in regaining her stroke, connecting on her next 10 tries from the line and 24 of her next 25 immediately after the streak ended.
Another Double-Double for Double-Three
Missouri State's No. 33 Christiana Shorter racked up the 15th double-double of her Lady Bear career with a 16-point, 11-board effort Feb. 6 vs. UNI. The Tulsa native enters Thursday's game in fifth place on the MSU all-time double-double list. She trails only Kelly Mago (17), Tiff Terwelp (21), Roshonda Reed (24) and Jeanette Tendai (35) on the career list.
Through the first 25 games of her Missouri State career, sophomore transfer Tia Mays has already made an imprint in the Lady Bear record book. The 6-1 forward, who ranked sixth nationally in blocks per game coming into the week, rejected two Bradley shots Feb. 4 to surpass Sharon Zeilmann's 24-year-old MSU single-season school record. With four rejections against Indiana State last week, Mays climbed to No. 3 on the MVC's single-season blocked shot list, passing Tammi Blackstone of Drake, who swatted 84 shots in 1998-99. She added two more blocks Saturday at Illinois State to bring her Missouri State-record total to 87 on the year.
Mays has posted eight of the top 15 single-game block totals in school history, including a Missouri State-record nine rejections in MSU's 58-47 win over Arkansas State (Dec. 5). That effort broke Zeilmann's school record and matched the all-time Missouri Valley Conference mark for blocks in a single game, held by UNI's Cassie Hager. Zeilmann, who swatted away eight shots on two separate occasions during the 1986-87 season, held the Lady Bear single-game mark for nearly a quarter of a century.
The Des Moines native became the fastest Missouri State player to reach 50 career blocks and her current average of 3.5 bpg would rank third all-time on the Valley's single-season list. If she concludes the season atop the MVC's leader board, Mays would become just the third Lady Bear to lead the conference in blocks, joining Zeilmann (1985 and 1987) and Breton Wyett (2007) in that exclusive club.
With 17 wins it its first 25 games, Missouri State has matched its best start under fourth-year head coach Nyla Milleson. The Lady Bears' current 17-8 mark is identical to their record at the same point last year and represents their best start to a season since 2004-05, when they began the season with 19 victories in their first 25 games. Missouri State, which started the season with eight wins in its first 10 games, has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the five seasons it has started with at least an 8-2 mark since moving to Division I status in 1982.
Climbing the Charts
Junior guard Casey Garrison took her place on a pair of Missouri State career top 10 lists the week of Jan. 3-9. The Bolivar, Mo., product eclipsed Cindy Henderson's career scoring total with her 13-point effort at Bradley (Jan. 8) to move into the top 10 for career scoring, just two days after cracking the school's top 10 steals list.
Already No. 2 all-time at MSU in career scoring average (18.0 ppg), Garrison needs 54 points to move up to sixth on the scoring list after passing Roshonda Reed with her 20-point effort Feb. 6 vs. UNI, but an astounding 1,806 points to catch all-time NCAA scoring leader Jackie Stiles in the top spot on the chart with 3,393 career points. Garrison has a much shorter distance to climb to reach the top of the steals list, needing just 146 more to equal Kari Koch's school-record career total of 340.
With four more assists and 94 additional rebounds, Garrison would break into the career top 10 charts in those categories as well, making her just the second Lady Bear ever to post top 10 career totals in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Jenni Lingor is currently the only player in the 42-year history of the varsity program at MSU to accomplish the feat, ranking fourth in points, sixth in assists, seventh in rebounds and eighth in steals. With 36 points at Drake (Jan. 29), Garrison joined Lingor as the only Lady Bears to total 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.
Easy As 1-2-3
As a team, the Lady Bears lead the MVC in field goal percentage defense (.336), blocked shots (6.2 bpg), total rebounding (44.4 rpg), offensive rebounding (14.8 rpg) and defensive rebounding (29.6 rpg), and rank first, second or third in 12 different team statistical categories.
After being outscored in each of the first three games of the season, Missouri State's bench has outscored the last 22 Lady Bear opponents by a combined 114 points (382 to 268). MSU reserves enjoyed a strong all-around performance in the Lady Bears' win over LA Tech (Nov. 27), out-scoring the Lady Techster reserves, 23-7 while also outrebounding them 22-7. MSU's contest against ORU (Nov. 30) produced even greater returns, as MSU finished with a 32-5 advantage in bench scoring vs. the Golden Eagles. Led by Regan Soldner's career-high 10 points, the MSU bench out-performed Indiana State's reserves by a 25-6 margin Feb. 10.
Missouri State All-Time
Missouri State is in its 42nd season of women's collegiate basketball and has an all-time record of 713-494 (.591). MSU began formal competition in 1969 and, with its 22-11 mark last year, secured its 27th winning season. The Lady Bears have made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by Final Four trips in 1992 and 2001 to go along with a Sweet 16 appearance in 1993.
The Lady Bears are in their 29th NCAA Division I season and 19th 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. The Lady Bears are 230-103 all-time in MVC play with a 135-32 home record against league foes.