Lady Bears Set to Take on DePaul in WNIT Quarterfinal Matchup
Game 2: Missouri State Lady Bears (1-0) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (1-0)
Date: Monday, Nov. 15
The Missouri State Lady Bears (1-0, 0-0 MVC) continue play in the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament Monday (Nov. 15) evening with a second-round contest against the DePaul Blue Demons (1-0, 0-0 BIG EAST) at JQH Arena. The Lady Bears defeated Lamar in the tourney's first round by an 83-60 score Friday to halt a six-game opening-day losing streak. DePaul cruised past Valparaiso, 83-54, in its season opener in Chicago.
Monday's game will be the second of at least three contests the Lady Bears will play in the Preseason WNIT (see page 8 for bracket and capsules). With a victory, MSU would advance to a semifinal match-up against the winner of the Florida-Charlotte game, which will be played Monday evening in Gainesville, Fla. Bracket play will continue through the semifinal and championship rounds, with the two teams in the final playing a total of four games. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will be re-grouped into a pair of four-team consolation quads. One team in each pool will be selected to host the other three in a two-game consolation bracket.
► Missouri State opened the season at JQH Arena for the second straight year after lifting the lid on the road in each of the preceding six seasons; MSU snapped a six-game opening-night losing streak with its 83-60 win over Lamar on Friday
► With its win over Lamar on Friday, Missouri State improved to 4-3 all time in the Preseason WNIT, with previous trips in 1994, 1998 and 2002; the Lady Bears dropped an 81-80 decision to Tulsa (Nov. 15, 2002) in their last appearance in the event
► 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
► Reigning MVC Player of the Year Casey Garrison moved past Tara Mitchem into 15th place on the Lady Bears career scoring chart with her 33-point effort Friday vs. Lamar; she needs 72 points to catch Tahnee Balerio in the No. 14 spot on the chart and 41 more boards to crack the top 20 list for career rebounds
► DePaul head coach Doug Bruno will be gunning for his 500th career coaching victory Monday, which would be his second milestone win vs. the Lady Bears; Bruno won his 400th game as head coach of DePaul with an 80-48 rout of MSU in Chicago on Dec. 2, 2007
► Monday's contest will feature two of the 50 Division I players named to the Naismith Player of the Year preseason watch list; Both Garrison and DePaul's Keisha Hampton were chosen for the honor by the Atlanta Tip Off Club
► The Lady Bears are a combined 5-9 (.357) against the current membership of the BIG EAST Conference and 126-95 (.570) against schools from the state of Illinois
► Junior Jasmine Malone enters Monday's game with a streak of 16 straight makes from the foul line
► The Lady Bears entered the 2010-11 season as the Missouri Valley Conference favorite for the first time in six years and the ninth time overall; MSU has gone on to capture the league crown in seven of the eight previous instances in which it has been the preseason pick to win the MVC race
Scouting the Lady Bears
For the first time in six seasons, the Lady Bears were selected as the Missouri Valley Conference's preseason favorite by the league's head coaches, media representatives and sports information directors. The Lady Bears appear poised for another deep run in the postseason with 10 letterwinners and four starters back from last year's breakthrough 22-11 campaign that saw them finish tied for third in the Valley and return to the postseason for the first time in four seasons.
Leading the way 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 enter 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 64 games as a Lady Bear, Garrison's career scoring average of 18.2 ppg, is the second-highest mark in school history behind Stiles's 26.1 career average.
As a sophomore, Roberson was a second-team All-MVC pick and MSU's second-leading scorer (14.2 ppg.). The Kansas City native led the Valley in three-point field goals, finishing with 91 triples in all to rank second all-time at MSU in single-season.
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 the Lady Bears' final six contests. Shorter's 37 blocks ranks second all-time among MSU freshmen, and the 6-1 forward finished the season among the conference's top 10 individual performers in offensive rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, total rebounds, scoring and steals in MVC play.
Lady Bear Notables
► 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
► The Lady Bears went 13-4 at JQH Arena last season, marking their best performance at home since the 2005-06 season, when they went 14-4 at Hammons Student Center
► MSU outscored its two exhibition opponents by an average of 27.5 ppg
► The Lady Bears shot a blistering .500 (16-of-32) from three-point range and .741 (43-of-58) as a team from the foul line in their preseason exhibition wins
► MSU was one of 17 Division I women's basketball programs to post a turnaround of at least +10 games or more last season coming into the week; the Lady Bears' 12-game improvement was tied for the seventh-best in the nation
► MSU was 14th overall in the nation in team scoring, 17th in free throw percentage, 22nd in three-point field goal percentage, 29th in steals, 37th in field goal percentage and 47th in assists per game last year
► The Lady Bears' win at UNI (March 4) marked their eighth road win of the season; that total represented MSU's best since the 2004-05 season, when it went 9-6 on the road
► Casey Garrison's 33 points Friday vs. Lamar marked the fourth time in her Lady Bear career she has topped the 30-point mark; it also represented the highest individual point total for a Lady Bear on opening night since Jackie Stiles tallied 33 vs. UALR on Nov. 18, 2000; Stiles holds the MSU opening-game record with 41 points vs. Davidson on Nov. 13, 1998
► Garrison ranked 13th nationally in scoring and was the only NCAA Division I women's basketball player in the country to rank among the top 35 in individual points, assists and steals per game
► Garrison's 658 points on the season last year was the fifth-highest all-time total at MSU and 11th on the Valley's single-season scoring list
► With her 27-point performance vs. Evansville (Feb. 28), Garrison became the 20th player in Missouri State history to top the 1,000-point plateau and the second-quickest Valley player ever to reach the mark, doing so in just 57 career games
► Through 64 career games, Garrison already ranks among the top 20 in MSU history in scoring, assists, steals, free throws made and field goals made
► MVC Freshman of the Year Christiana Shorter streak of four consecutive double-doubles (March 4-19) was the first such streak for a Lady Bear since Tiff Terwelp strung together four straight doubles from Feb. 24 through March 8, 2008
► 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 Blue Demons
The Blue Demons were picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST Conference by the league's 16 coaches after going 21-12 and tying for the sixth spot in the regular-season standings last year. One of seven BIG EAST squads to appear in the NCAA Tournament in 2010, DePaul made its eighth straight trip to the Big Dance and its 15th overall. This season, the Blue Demons return all five starters, including five double-figure scorers. Leading the way for head coach Doug Bruno's club is a pair of preseason player of the year candidates in junior forward Keisha Hampton and senior guard Dierdre Naughton. Hampton was selected for the Naismith Player of the Year preseason watch list after 13.8 points and 5.5 boards per outing last year en route to earning Second-Team All-BIG EAST honors. Naughton was one of five BIG EAST Conference players to appear on the Preseason Wade Watch Top 30 list. In her two seasons at DePaul, Naughton has averaged 15.3 points per game while her 124, 3-point field goals rank 12th on DePaul's all-time list. Senior Sam Quigley is also back after averaging 13.1 points and 5.1 assists per game last year, and sophomore Anna Martin (10.5 ppg/2.2apg) connected on over 43 percent of her three-point attempts as a freshman. Sophomore Katherine Harry led DePaul in rebounding as a freshman last year, and she'll receive help on the front line from senior Felicia Chester, who contributed 10 points and just under seven boards per contest last year.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her fourth season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 44-50 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 229-86 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.
Doug Bruno (DePaul, '73) is 459-264 in his 25th season at his alma mater, having led the Blue Demons to eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including the program's first-ever Sweet 16 trip in 2006. Bruno served as DePaul's head coach for two seasons (1976-78) before making stops in the WBL (Chicago Hustle, 1978-80) and at Loyola University (men's associate head coach, 1980-88). Since his return to DePaul as head coach in 1988, Bruno has led the Blue Demons to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, four regular-season and four postseason conference titles.
Monday's contest will be the fifth meeting in the series between the Lady Bears and Blue Demons, with DePaul taking each of the first four games. The two teams last met Dec. 10, 2008 in Springfield, where the Blue Demons emerged victorious with a 72-57 decision. On Dec. 2, 2007, in Chicago the Blue Demons handed the Lady Bears an 80-48 setback, their third-largest margin of defeat under Nyla Milleson.
Last Time Out
After a sluggish start, the Lady Bears kicked their offense into high gear to run away with an 83-60 decision over Lamar Friday evening in the season-opener for both clubs at JQH Arena. Junior guard Casey Garrison torched the visitors for 33 points-26 of which came in the second half-as MSU outscored the Cardinals 27-4 over an eight-minute stretch to seize control of the contest.
Garrison-who also recorded a game-high six assists and a team-high eight rebounds-accounted for 13 points during the key run, and MSU finished the job with strong second-half efforts on both ends of the court. The Lady Bears shot .488 (20-of-41) from the floor in the second half, while forcing 16 turnovers and holding the Cardinals to just 7-of-30 (.233) shooting after the break.
Like most of her Lady Bear teammates, Garrison spent most of the first half trying to shake off the rust, going just 1-for-8 over the first 17:56. But the Naismith Trophy candidate converted her first three-point field goal attempt of the season with just over two minutes to play in the half to kick off a stretch that would see her knock down 10 straight shots from the floor. She would finish the night 12-of-20 from the field, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, to notch her fourth career 30+ point game.
Garrison was joined in double-figures by three of her teammates, as Jasmine Malone contributed 12 points and eight boards, and Lacey Boshe and Hannah Wilkerson chipped in 10 points apiece.
The Lady Bears-who snapped a six-game opening-night losing streak with the victory-would stretch their lead to as many as 24 late in the game, outscoring the Cardinals by a final margin of 52-26 in the second half.
With their win Friday vs. Lamar, the Lady Bears are 21-21 all time in season openers. The 83-60 victory stopped a string of six consecutive opening-day losses. MSU won 10 straight lid-lifters from 1992-2001.
Friday's game marked the second straight season opener at home for the Lady Bears. Last year, MSU dropped a 79-55 decision to Georgetown at JQH Arena. The Lady Bears are now 19-6 at home in season openers since the 1973-74 season and have won 15 of their last 17 such contests.
For the first time in six seasons, the Lady Bears will begin a season as the Missouri Valley Conference's preseason favorite. MSU was tabbed to win the conference title by the league's head coaches, media representatives and sports information directors. Additionally, junior guard Casey Garrison was the panel's unanimous choice for preseason MVC player of the year, while junior guard Jaleshia Roberson was also selected to the preseason All-MVC team.
With 10 letterwinners and four starters back from last year's breakthrough 22-11 campaign that saw them finish tied for third in the Valley and return to the postseason for the first time in four seasons, Missouri State garnered 27 of 40 first-place votes and 385 total points to outpace No. 2 UNI in the poll. The Panthers (329 points) grabbed three first-place votes, edging third-place Creighton - which picked up seven first-place nods - by just one point.
Missouri State's selection represents the ninth time in the last two decades the Lady Bears have been the preseason choice to win the conference's regular-season title, and its first since the 2004-05 campaign. The Lady Bears have captured the regular-season crown on seven of the previous eight occasions they have been picked to win the MVC race (see table at right).
Joining Garrison and Roberson on the preseason All-Valley squad were UNI's Jacqui Kalin and Lizzie Boeck and Creighton's Sam Schuett.
Three-time defending league champion Illinois State (258) finished fourth in the polling, while Wichita State (226) came home fifth. Bradley (204) registered a sixth-place finish, while Drake (180), Indiana State (150), Southern Illinois (83) and Evansville (57) rounded out the field.
Watching No. 5
Casey Garrison has been named to the prestigious 2010-11 Naismith preseason watch list, the Atlanta Tip Off Club announced Nov. 9. Garrison, the unanimous preseason choice to repeat as Valley player of the year, was the lone MVC player chosen for the 50-player list.
The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2010-11 college basketball season. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T will be awarded on April 4, 2011 at the NCAA Women's Final Four in Indianapolis.
Garrison led the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring (19.9 ppg) and steals (2.7 spg) and ranked second in assists (5.1 apg), spearheading the Lady Bears' turnaround from a 10-20 season in 2008-09 to a 22-11 overall mark and third-place Valley finish last year. The 6-0 guard was the only Division I women's basketball player in the nation to rank among the top 35 individuals in those same three categories this season.
Since 2005, presenting sponsor AT&T has set the standard in allowing fans to participate in determining the trophy winner. Through the power and ease of text messaging fan voting will account for 25 percent of all of the final results - more than any other national college basketball award.
In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.
The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious national award presented annually to college basketball's player of the year. For more information, visit www.naismithawards.com.
The 2010-10 Lady Bears' roster includes two seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. The 14-member group includes 10 returning letterwinners and four newcomers. The Lady Bears return four starters from last season, including MVC Player of the Year Casey Garrison, and fellow juniors Lacey Boshe and Jaleshia Roberson-a second-team All-MVC pick last year. Sophomore Christiana Shorter started each of MSU's 33 games last year, earning MVC Freshman of the Year honors. Other returnees include seniors Jacque Griggs and Kendra Roberts, juniors Jasmine Malone and Regan Soldner and sophomores Whitney Edie and Aly Stock. Newcomers include sophomore transfer Tia Mays and freshmen Karly Buer, Desiree Phillips and Hannah Wilkerson. Additionally, sophomore University of Cincinnati transfer Bry Snow will sit out the 2010-11 season and have three years of eligibility remaining beginning next fall.
Sign 'Em Up
Nyla Milleson and her staff welcomed two new members of the Lady Bear family last week when Nijay Gaines (Des Moines, Iowa) and Kenzie Williams (Mt. Vernon, Mo.) signed National Letters of Intent to join the Missouri State women's basketball program for the Fall 2011 semester.
A 5-11 guard/forward, Gaines is a former teammate of current Lady Bear Tia Mays at Des Moines East High School. As a junior, Gaines helped the Lady Scarlets to a 25-1 record and 4A runner-up finish in the Iowa state tournament, averaging 10 points and six rebounds en route to earning first-team all-conference and all-region honors. One of three Division I signees on her high school team this fall, she has played a key role in East's 61-9 combined record and three conference titles over her first three prep seasons. Additionally, she has competed in AAU ball for the All Iowa Attack.
Williams is the latest local product to commit to the Lady Bears, joining the likes of Casey Garrison, Lacey Boshe, Whitney Edie, Aly Stock and Hannah Wilkerson, who chose to stay close to home in recent years and don the Maroon and White for Milleson's program. A 5-11 guard, Williams averaged 17.6 points, 5.2 boards and 2.9 assists as a junior, guiding the Mountaineers to a 30-3 season that culminated in a Missouri Class 4 state championship. Williams was named first-team all-state by the Associated Press and Missouri Basketball Coaches Association and was chosen by the Springfield News-Leader for its annual All-Ozarks team. Williams also competed in track and field and earned second-team all-state honors competing in volleyball this fall for Mt. Vernon.
With the conclusion of their first two seasons in JQH Arena, the Lady Bears extended a streak that dates back more than 20 years. Missouri State drew 59,804 spectators in 17 home dates in 2009-10 for an average of 3,518 fans per game. MSU's total attendance led the MVC for the 21st consecutive year, and the Lady Bears outdrew 10 AP Top 25 teams, as well as regional foes Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Iowa in per-game attendance.
Since the 1990-91 season, Missouri State has ranked in the top 20 nationally in average attendance 19 times, including a string of 10 straight top-10 finishes from 1992 through the 2000-01 season. The Lady Bears led all of Division I women's basketball in attendance during the 1992-93 season by averaging 7,421 fans per contest.
Over the last two decades, MSU is fourth among all Division I women's programs in average attendance, trailing only Tennessee, Connecticut and Texas Tech. Additionally, the Lady Bears have finished in the top 50 nationally in per game attendance for 24 straight years.
Lady Bears on the Air
For the 26th consecutive year, Lady Bear basketball will be broadcast by Meyer Communications, which operates Springfield radio station KTXR (101.3 FM). All games will air live on either KTXR or "The Jock" 98.7 FM, and can also be heard over the internet at RadioSpringfield.com.
Rob Evans is back for his fourth season calling the action for Missouri State, and former Lady Bear Dr. Lynne Miller will provide color commentary. Evans will also host "The Nyla Milleson Radio Show" which will originate from one of the two Springfield Houlihan's locations and air primarily on "The Jock" 98.7 FM (KWTO) once a week during the regular season.
Over the next four years, 17 Missouri State University basketball games will be carried annually by KY3, Inc., the parent company of local broadcast stations KYTV and Ozarks CW (KCZ), as part of the two-tier television rights package negotiated by the University's marketing partner, Nelligan Sports Marketing (NSM).