Lady Bears Head to Tulsa Wednesday in Search of First Win



Missouri State Lady Bears (0-1) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-0)

When: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 7 p.m. Where: Donald W. Reynolds Center, Tulsa, Okla. Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM Live Stats:

Game Overview
The Missouri State Lady Bears will be looking to put their first notch in the win column in 2008-09 when they take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane Wednesday (Nov. 19) evening at the Donald W. Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.

MSU dropped a hard-fought 67-64 ballgame to Southeast Missouri State last Friday (Nov. 14) in its season opener in Cape Girardeau and will be trying to avoid its third straight 0-2 start. Tulsa got its 2008-09 season off to a solid start Sunday (Nov. 16), defeating McNeese State by a 58-56 score.

Both teams will be trying to build some early-season momentum following 11-win seasons in 2007-08. The Lady Bears struggled out of the gate last year, dropping their first six games before knocking off TU, 72-61 in Springfield (12/4/07). The Golden Hurricane finished 11-20 a year ago, but return all five starters, including junior center Larrissa Williams, who tormented the Lady Bears to the tune of 27 points and 10 rebounds last December.

Wednesday’s contest will be the 13th meeting of the two programs and marks the fifth season in-a-row the Golden Hurricane and Lady Bears will have met.

Quick Hits
Missouri State will be looking to avoid its third consecutive 0-2 start
The Lady Bears will be seeking their first true road win in November since the 1983-84 season
MSU will try to put an end to a six-game losing streak in the month of November
Junior guard Melissa Busby will be active for the first time since tearing her right ACL last Feb. 14, and freshman guard Morgan Harrington is expected to see her first playing time as a Lady Bear after missing the majority of the preseason with a high ankle sprain

Last Time Out
The Lady Bears lifted the lid on the 2008-09 season Friday (Nov. 14) evening with a heartbreaking 67-64 setback to Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Mo., as Rachel Blunt’s 18-foot jumper with 1:06 to play put the Redhawks on top to stay. SEMO rallied from a six-point second-half deficit behind Crysta Glenn’s 19-point, 11-rebound performance to claim the victory.

Glenn scored 13 of her 15 second-half points in the final 9:51, including a big three-pointer that knotted the score with 3:39 to play. Blunt also posted a strong finish for the Redhawks, knocking down three key jumpers in the final three and-a-half minutes to help SEMO overcome a valiant effort by the Lady Bears, who dropped to 0-1 on the season with the defeat.

Freshman Jaleshia Roberson’s 13 points led three Lady Bears who finished in double figures. Tiffany Coppage tallied 12 points and Maggie Dwyer scored all of her 11 points in the second half. Freshman Casey Garrison chipped in seven points to go along with her team-high nine rebounds.

After SEMO used a 24-9 run to close the first half to take a 37-31 lead into intermission, MSU pulled to within 41-37 four minutes into the second half on Maggie Dwyer’s second consecutive basket. A Lauren Sharpe three-point play pushed the SEMO lead back to seven moments later, but the Lady Bears came right back with another offensive spurt, scoring the next 13 points to claim a 50-44 lead with 10:31 left on the clock.

The Redhawks gradually chipped away, at the MSU lead starting with four straight points from Glenn. Key to the comeback was Glenn’s critical trey that tied the game at 57-57 on a possession that saw the Redhawks corral three offensive boards.

The Lady Bears recovered to score five of the next seven points to reclaim a three-point lead with just under three minutes to play, but Blunt was able to grab another offensive rebound off of her own miss and convert the second of her three crucial baskets down the stretch. Glenn then converted a pair of free throws with 1:47 left to put SEMO back on top before MSU’s Lacey Boshe scored in the paint to make it a 64-63 game at the 1:33 mark.

Blunt answered with her biggest shot yet to give the Redhawks the lead for good, and a pair of Daugherty free throws with 0:18 left accounted for the final margin.The Lady Bears had one final chance to pull even, but Garrison’s running 25-foot attempt as the clock expired was off the mark.

The Lady Bears forced 21 Redhawk turnovers, but committed 18 of their own and shot only .375 (21-of-56) from the field for the game and just 6-of-24 (.250) from three-point range.

The Coaches
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, ’85) begins her second season as the head coach at Missouri State with an 11-20 mark as the Lady Bears’ mentor and an overall record of 196-56 in eight years as a collegiate head coach. Milleson 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 6 for a complete bio)

Charlene Thomas-Swinson (Auburn, ’92) is 49-45 at TU in her fourth season leading the Golden Hurricane program. The former Auburn University standout was named Conference USA Coach of the Year after guiding the Golden Hurricane to their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament and a school-record 26 wins in 2005-06. Thomas-Swinson is in her seventh season as a collegiate head coach, having compiled a career record of 73-106. She served as head coach at St. John’s from 1996-98.

Series History
The Lady Bears bring a 7-5 mark against the Golden Hurricane into Wednesday’s contest, but are just 1-4 in games played in Tulsa. MSU cruised to a 72-61 win at Hammons Student Center last December, but TU dominated the two schools most recent meeting in Tulsa, a 70-51 decision on December 9, 2006.

This year’s meeting will be the sixth in the last seven seasons for the two programs, with Tulsa taking three of the previous five during that period. Under Charlene Thomas-Swinson, the Golden Hurricane is 2-1 versus MSU, while the Lady Bears dropped their only contest with TU under Nyla Milleson last season.

Scouting Tulsa
Tulsa was tabbed seventh in Conference USA’s preseason poll and returns all five starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s 11-20 squad. The Golden Hurricane are led by 6-3 junior forward Larrissa Williams, an all-C-USA preseason selection who nearly averaged a double-double (14.4 ppg./9.5 rpg.) last year. The Little Rock native registered a career-high 27 points and pulled down 10 boards against the Lady Bears last December in Springfield.

Williams will receive help in the post from 6-3 senior forward Chanel Johnson, who led the team with 85 blocks while contributing 10.7 points per game a year ago. Sophomore guard Tatum Beer was the Golden Hurricane’s third-leading scorer (8.7 ppg.) last season and led the club with 93 assists and 56 steals to go along with her 56 three-point field goals. Another sophomore guard, ReShawndra Jackson started all 31 games in 2007-08, averaging 7.4 points per outing. Sophomore center Kara Vaughan also made significant contibutions in her debut campaign, starting 24 games and giving TU a versatile scoring threat from all over the floor. She went 37-of-99 from beyond the three-point arc, good for a 37.4 percent clip.

The Golden Hurricane outlasted McNeese State, 58-56 Sunday (Nov. 16) in its season opener in Tulsa. Williams lived up to her preseason billing, posting a monster 21-point, 18-rebound performance against the Cowgirls for her 17th career double-double. TU held McNeese to just 30 percent shooting from the floor and forced 22 turnovers in the contest.

For Openers
The Lady Bears’ 67-64 loss at SEMO on Friday (Nov. 14) was their fifth straight opening-night loss and their sixth defeat to open a season in the last eight years. MSU fell to 20-20 all-time and 1-9 on the road in season openers.

Game two hasn’t gone much better for Missouri State, with the Lady Bears going just 2-5 in their second game of the season over the last seven years. MSU has started at least 0-3 in each of the last two years, including an 0-6 start to the 2007-08 campaign.

November Blues
With their season-opening setback at SEMO last Friday (Nov. 14), the Lady Bears dropped their sixth consecutive November contest. MSU has won just eight of its 23 games in November since the start of the 2002-03 season, but maintains a 44-41 record in the month since making the move to Division I in 1982.

The Lady Bears’ fortunes on the road in the first month of the season have been even more dire. Missouri State has lost 15 consecutive road contests in November, dating back to an 85-47 pasting of Missouri-St. Louis on November 26, 1983.

On the Road Again
Missouri State has found the road to be an unfriendly place over the last four seasons. With its loss at SEMO to open the season, MSU has gone just 5-34 in road contests since 2004-05 and, including neutral court contests, has lost 38 out of its last 43 games away from home.

Lou on the Loose
Freshman guard Jaleshia Roberson’s 13 points against the Redhawks in the Lady Bears’ season opener (Nov. 14) led all MSU scorers, marking the first time a Lady Bear freshman has led the team in scoring in her debut game since Sarah Klaassen scored 23 points against Tulsa on November 15, 2002.

Roberson went 5-of-11 from the field, handed out two assists, grabbed one rebound and recorded a steal in the 67-64 loss.

Fall Harvest
The Lady Bears locked up four commitments for the 2009-10 season during the first week of the early signing period, which began November 12. 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 Monday (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.

On This Date...
November 19, 2001 Missouri 61, Missouri State 57 The Lady Bears suffered their first loss of the 2001-02 season, succombing to the Tigers’ standout performance from the foul line. While MSU shot just 42.9 percent from the charity stripe, MU connected on 24-of-31 attempts from the line, including a perfect 10-of-10 effort from Kerensa Barr, to overcome a 28.8 percent shooting night from the floor. Barr posted game-highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Erica Vicente led the Lady Bears with 18 points.

Roster Refresh
The 2008-09 Lady Bears’ roster includes three seniors, two juniors, one sophomore and six freshmen. The 12-member group includes six returning letterwinners and six newcomers. The Lady Bears return two starters from last season, including All-MVC second-team forward Maggie Dwyer. Junior guard Melissa Busby and senior guard Tiffany Coppage also spent some time in MSU’s starting lineup in 2007-08. Other returnees include senior forward Jamie Adams, junior guard Roxy Stiles and sophomore forward Jacque Griggs. Newcomers include Lacey Boshe, Casey Garrison, Morgan Harrington, Jasmine Malone, Jaleshia Roberson and Regan Soldner. Junior guard Kendra Roberts will sit out the upcoming season after transferring to MSU from Arkansas.

Lady Bear Captains
Seniors Jamie Adams, Tiffany Coppage and Maggie Dwyer will serve as tri-captains for the 2008-09 season. Coppage is a repeat choice to lead the team after filling the same role last year alongside seniors Tahnee Balerio and Tiff Terwelp.

Preseason Picks
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.

Back In Business
In going 9-9 in the MVC last season, the Lady Bears posted their first .500 finish in conference play since the 2004-05 campaign. Missouri State won at least 11 conference games in each of its first 13 years in the league, capturing eight regular-season crowns before falling to 7-11 in 2005-06 and finishing 10th at 3-15 in 2006-07.

Missouri State All-Time
Missouri State is in its 40th season of women’s collegiate basketball and has an all-time record of 664-456 (.593). 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.

Missouri State is in its 27th NCAA Division I season and 17th 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 underwent a rebranding initiative.

Missouri State Postseason Run
One or both of the MSU basketball teams have made post-season appearances in all but one of the last 23 years.

With last year’s 11-19 finish, the Lady Bears missed the postseason for just the second time since the 1996-97 season. The MSU women have seen postseason action in nine of the past 11 years and in 15 out of the last 18 seasons, dating back to the 1990-91 campaign.

If You Build It They Will Come
The Lady Bears will open their new $67 million home facility, JQH Arena, on Nov. 23 when they host Arkansas State. 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.

In all, Missouri State will host 14 home games in its inaugural season in JQH Arena.



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