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Lady Bears Set to Open Home Stand Against Louisiana Tech Saturday



Missouri State Lady Bears (2-1, 0-0 MVC) 


Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (2-2, 0-0 WAC) 

Date: Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010Time: 2:05 p.m.Site: JQH Arena (11,000)Location: Springfield, Mo.Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Rob Evans, Lynne Miller)TV: NoneLive Audio: RadioSpringfield.com Live Stats and Video: MissouriStateBears.com             

Game Overview

After a successful first road trip of the season last weekend, the Missouri State Lady Bears return home to kick-off their longest home stand of the year Saturday afternoon when they host the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters in a 2:05 p.m. contest at JQH Arena.

Missouri State knocked off Toledo by a 73-69 score last Saturday (Nov. 20) to end the Rockets' 14-game home-court win streak and close the 2010 Preseason WNIT with a 2-1 mark. This Saturday's game begins a stretch of five consecutive home dates for the Lady Bears. MSU will also match-up against the likes of Oral Roberts (Nov. 30), Eastern Michigan (Dec. 3), Arkansas State (Dec. 5) and SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 9), before hitting the road for a four-game stretch to close the non-conference season.

The Lady Techsters enter Saturday's game with a 2-2 record following their second straight loss, a 70-66 setback to Houston on Tuesday in Ruston. Tech started the season with home wins over Prairie View A&M and Western Kentucky before dropping their first road tilt of the year Nov. 19 at UALR.

Quick Hits

  • With their victory over Toledo last Saturday, the Lady Bears improved to 5-4 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
  • 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
  • MSU leads the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring (74.0), three-point field goal percentage (.425), blocks (6.0 bpg), steals (11.3 spg) and offensive rebounding (15.3 rpg)
  • 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 Nov. 12 vs. Lamar; she needs 20 points to catch Tahnee Balerio in the No. 14 spot on the chart and 28 more boards to crack the top 20 list for career rebounds
  • Garrison's 32 points vs. Toledo last Saturday marked the fifth time in her Lady Bear career she has topped the 30-point mark; her 33 points vs. Lamar (Nov. 12) 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 has knocked down 22-of-24 (.917) free throws and leads the MVC with a 28.3 ppg average and .818 (9-of-11) three-point field goal percentage through three games
  • Garrison was named MVC Player of the Week for the second straight week and the fifth time of her career on Monday
  • Freshmen Karly Buer and Hannah Wilkerson have combined to shoot .944 from the foul line and .533 from three-point range over their first three collegiate games
  • Sophomores Tia Mays and Christiana Shorter are tied for fourth in the Valley in blocks (1.7) per game
  • Along with senior Kendra Roberts, Shorter and Garrison rank among the top six MVC players in individual steals per game; Roberts (2.7 spg) is tied for third, while Garrison (3.3) leads the league and Shorter (2.3) is tied for fifth

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 66 games as a Lady Bear, Garrison's career scoring average of 18.5 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 last year 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 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
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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 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
  • Garrison's 658 points on the season 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, 2010), 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 66 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's string 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 Lady Techsters

Coming off a 23-9 season that landed them in the NCAA Tournament for the 26th time, the Lady Techsters are once again expected to compete for the WAC title with nine letterwinners back for head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. First-team All-WAC forward Adrienne Johnson made an immediate impact as a freshman a year ago, averaging 16.0 points and 7.2 boards. Through four games this season, the 6-0 sophomore paces the Louisiana Tech attack with a 25.0 ppg average. A trio of returners in the backcourt has also played a key role in LTU's 2-2 start, including senior Whitney Jones, who is second on the squad with a 9.5 ppg average. Junior Jasmine Bendolph (7.5 ppg) is the top assister on the team, handing out an average of 4.8 helpers per contest, while Tarkeisha Wysinger-Mackey is scoring at an 8.3 ppg clip to go along with 7.5 boards per contest.

The Coaches

Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her fourth season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 45-51 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 230-87 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.      

Teresa Weatherspoon (Louisiana Tech, '08) is 34-13 overall in her third season as head coach of the Lady Techsters. Weatherspoon was a two-time All-American during her collegiate playing career at LA Tech and a 2010 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. In her first full year as head coach, she led the Lady Techsters to 23-9 record, the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title and the program's 26th appearance in the NCAA Tournament en route to earning the WBCA's Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year honor.

Series History

Saturday's contest will be just the second meeting between the two schools, with LA Tech claiming a 59-43 victory in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal in 1993. Missouri State is 2-3 all-time versus the current membership of the Western Athletic Conference.

Last Time Out

Behind Casey Garrison's 32 points, the Lady Bears held off a furious second-half rally by home-standing Toledo to notch a 73-69 win over the Rockets in a Preseason WNIT consolation game at Savage Arena last Saturday. Garrison scored 17 straight points for MSU late in the game to help seal MSU's second victory of the season.

With the score tied at 53-53, Garrison's jumper with 8:00 left on the clock started the game-deciding run for MSU, in which the junior guard personally outscored the Rockets 14-5. Her three-pointer one minute later gave the Lady Bears a five-point cushion and she would connect from long range again with 3:53 to play to make it a 65-58 ball game. Garrison finished her offensive flurry with five free throws in six attempts in the final 4:40 of the contest to erase any doubt about the outcome.

The victory for the Lady Bears was very much in doubt in the moments leading up to Garrison's outburst, however. Toledo erased a 13-point halftime deficit over the first eight minutes of the second stanza, as Courtney Ingersoll sparked UT's long-range attack with a pair of threes and 10 points in the same span. Her shooting sparked a UT long-range attack that sputtered in the game's first 20 minutes, going 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Melissa Goodall also came up big for UT in the second half, totaling eight of her 13 second-half points in the first 10:23 to help the Rockets reclaim the lead. Her free throw with 11:54 to play knotted the score at 46-46 and she scored in the paint one minute later to hand UT its first lead since the 13-minute mark of the first half.

The Rockets stretched the lead to four on a pair of Naama Shafir free throws before two Garrison free throws and five straight points from Christiana Shorter put MSU back on top with 8:28 left on the clock.

Goodall's layup knotted the score on UT's ensuing possession, but Garrison took over from that point, going 4-of-5 from the field over a six-and-a-half minute period to stretch the Lady Bear lead back to nine. Garrison, who also pulled down seven rebounds and recorded a game-high four steals, totaled 21 points after intermission.

Missouri State used a stifling defense and some sharp-shooting to build a commanding 42-29 halftime lead. The Lady Bear defense held UT to just .259 shooting and forced 11 Rocket turnovers, while MSU connected on 5-of-7 three-point attempts. Freshman Karly Buer accounted for three of those long-range buckets to total 13 points in the opening period.

That's A Wrap

Missouri State concluded play in the Preseason WNIT with a 73-69 victory over Toledo last Saturday, bringing to a close a successful appearance in the tournament. The Lady Bears notched two wins over 2010 postseason participants (Lamar, Toledo), bringing their all-time mark in the event to 5-4. MSU's victory over the Rockets also ended a 14-game home win streak for the MAC West Division favorite.  

Rolling In The WNIT 

Junior guard Casey Garrison has never had difficulty filling up a stat line, but her last six games have been particulary noteworthy in that department. Over Missouri State's three games in last spring's Postseason WNIT and its three games in this year's Preseason WNIT, Garrison has averaged 25.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per outing. The Bolivar, Mo., product has been on fire from long range, connecting on 15-of-20 (.750) three-point attempts, while hitting 38-of-42 (.905) foul shots over the same stretch.

Fab Frosh   

Lady Bear rookies Karly Buer and Hannah Wilkerson have been two of MSU's most-consistent shooters through the first three games of the season. The duo has combined to go 17-of-18 (.944) from the free throw line and 8-of-13 (.615) from beyond the three-point arc. Buer is the Lady Bears' second-leading scorer (10.0 ppg) and assister (2.7 apg), has started all three contests, while Wilkerson has made the most of her 14.3 mpg, posting a 7.0 ppg average.

For Openers

With their win vs. Lamar (Nov. 12), 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.

The contest also 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.

Preseason Picks

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.

Sign 'Em Up

Nyla Millesonand her staff welcomed two new members of the Lady Bear family Nov. 10, 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 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.Tia Mays

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.  

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 Nelligan Sports Marketing (NSM).

The agreement includes eight women's games per season. Each contest will be carried live over the air, on cable, and on satellite carriers Dish Network and Direct TV within the KY3 and Ozarks CW footprints, which cover 31 counties in two states. Network affiliates already secured include Metro Sports in Kansas City and Charter Communications in St. Louis.

Additionally, at least two regular-season Lady Bear games this season will be broadcast live locally on Fox Sports Midwest as part of  the MVC Television Network.




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