Lady Bears Set to Begin Four-Game Road Swing at Arkansas State
Missouri State Lady Bears (2-1) at Arkansas State Red Wolves (2-4)Date: Friday, November 27, 2009Tip: 7:05 p.m. (CST)Site: Convocation Center (10,038)Location: Jonesboro, Ark.Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Rob Evans)TV: NoneLive Audio: www.radiospringfield.comLive Video: www.astateredwolves.comLive Stats: www.astateredwolves.comUpcoming: Nov. 29 at Eastern Michigan
The Lady Bears will be aiming for their third consecutive win after topping Saint Louis and SEMO at home last week to climb above the .500-mark for the first time in over three years. Arkansas State, on the other hand, will be trying to end a three-game slide that has seen the Red Wolves suffer setbacks to Virginia Commonwealth, Seton Hall and Louisiana Tech following wins over nationally-ranked Kansas State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Friday's game will be the second for ASU against an MVC foe in 2009-10 after a 77-54 loss to Creighton to open the season.
Next up, MSU will trek north to the state of Michigan for the first time in program history Sunday with a 1 p.m. (CST) showdown against Eastern Michigan. The Lady Bears will wrap up their extended road trip the following weekend when they travel to Manhattan, Kan., for the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic (Dec. 4-5).
Last Time Out
Melissa Busby's three-pointer at the 10:42 mark broke a 12-12 tie and gave the Lady Bears the lead for good. Casey Garrison and Christiana Shorter combined for 15 points during the key stretch, and Whitney Edie punctuated the run with a trey of her own to push the margin to 21 points.
Garrison finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-6 shooting, as well as seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Shorter also came up big for the Lady Bears, posting her second double-digit scoring effort in MSU's three games. The Tulsa, Okla., native totaled 10 points to go along with four assists.
Missouri State's late dominance in the opening half followed a slow start that saw SEMO gain the upper hand early by knocking down three of their first five shots, including a pair of three-pointers by Lauren Sharpe.
However, MSU kicked its defense in gear to limit the visitors to just one field goal over the final 9:54 of the half. That stretch included a span of over seven minutes in which the Lady Bears held the Redhawks scoreless, allowing MSU to turn a three-point lead into a 37-16 advantage. MSU, which forced 24 turnovers on the afternoon, finished the first half with an 18-3 scoring advantage in points off turnovers.
In addition to their solid work on defense, the Lady Bears heated up on the offensive end after starting the game just 4-of-16 from the floor. As a team, the Lady Bears would convert nine of their final 14 field goal attempts, while the Redhawks went just 5-of-19 to close the period.
The Lady Bears added to their lead by scoring the first four points of the second half to make it a 45-22 ballgame before the Redhawks knocked down a trio of three-pointers to pull to within 16 with just over 15 minutes to play.
But Missouri State never let SEMO (2-1) seriously threaten its lead, pushing the margin to as many as 33 late in the game when the Lady Bears reeled off 13 unanswered points over an eight-minute span.
Missouri State, which shot 50 percent from the field in the second half and 46.3 percent for the game, dominated the battle for the boards, finishing with a 43-30 advantage in total rebounds.
Scouting the Lady Bears
Sophomore Casey Garrison has picked up right where she left off a year ago when she led all Division I true freshman in total scoring. So far the Bolivar, Mo., native is averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.3 assists. Her backcourt mate Jasmine Malone came through with a career game in last Wednesday's win over Saint Louis, totaling 19 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks, and is contributing 8.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Sophomore Lacey Boshe is second on the squad with a 10.0 ppg., average while shooting a team-high .556 from the floor. Freshman Christiana Shorter has made significant contributions in her first three games as a Lady Bear and comes into this weekend's action with a 9.3 ppg., average.
As a team, MSU is outscoring the opposition by 6.0 points per contest, while its defense has forced 64 turnovers in three games this season. The Lady Bears have also been dominant on the glass, outrebounding their three opponents by an average of nearly seven boards per game.
Scouting the Red Wolves
The Red Wolves are led by a pair of guards who are each averaging better than 14 points per outing. Senior Ebonie Jefferson has been ASU's most-consistent performer, contributing 14.0 points, 5.8 boards, 3.0 steals and 2.0 assists per outing. Sophomore Shania Hurst has also been one of the focal points for ASU in the early going, coming into the weekend with a club-best 14.3 ppg., average despite shooting just .167 from three-point range and committing a team-high 22 turnovers. Four additional players are averaging six points or better, paced by the play of senior Lyndsay Schlup (7.8 ppg./6.8 rpg.) and junior Sherina Scott (7.2 ppg./8.5 rpg.), the Red Wolves leading rebounder.
As a team, ASU has struggled to find its offensive rhythm, having shot just 32.2 percent from the field through the first six games of the season.
Last year Missouri State snapped a four-game series losing streak when they christened JQH Arena with a 61-52 win. The Lady Bears forced 34 turnovers and got 47 points from the trio of Lacey Boshe, Casey Garrison and Jaleshia Roberson. Garrison scored eight of her game-high 21 points during a 15-0 MSU run at the start of the second half.
The Lady Bears are 17-16 all-time versus the current membership of the Sun Belt Conference.
Brian Boyer (Missouri Western, '93) is in his 11th season as head coach at Arkansas State. During his time at the helm of the Red Wolves' program, he has posted a 170-139 overall record and has led the ASU to four WNIT appearances. Boyer guided the 2003-04 team to the first-ever regular season title in women's basketball history at ASU. The Red Wolves finished with a 19-10 record and a share of the Sun Belt East Division crown. The 2004-05 Lady Indians put together the fourth-longest winning streak in ASU history, as they ran off 11 straight wins including a program-best 10-game Sun Belt Conference winning streak en route to a 21-11 season that netted Boyer his second consecutive SBC Coach of the Year award. In 2007-08, he piloted ASU to a 20-12 mark before leading the Red Wolves to a second straight No. 2 finish in the SBC West.
The Lady Bears' fortunes on the road in the first month of the season have been even direr. Missouri State has lost 17 consecutive road contests in November, dating back to the 1983-84 campaign.
Happy Days Are Here Again
Free and Easy
Buzz Cracks Century Mark
The Edmond, Okla., native only needs 18 more triples to catch Jamie Bartlett in the ninth spot and just four more tries to tie Tina Robbins for the eighth position on the career attempts chart.