Lady Bears Set to Conclude Home Stand Thursday Against SIU Edwardsville



Missouri State Lady Bears (5-2) 


SIU Edwardsville Cougars (2-6) 

Date: Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010Time: 7:05 p.m.Site: JQH Arena (11,000)Location: Springfield, Mo.Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Rob Evans, Lynne Miller)TV: None
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Game Overview

The Missouri State Lady Bears will wrap up their five-game home stand, as well as the home portion of their 2010-11 non-conference schedule Thursday evening with a 7:05 p.m. contest against the SIU Edwardsville Cougars. MSU will be seeking its third straight victory and a 4-1 finish on the season's longest home stand after defeating Arkansas State by a 58-47 score Sunday afternoon.

With a win, Missouri State would have its best start to a season since the 2003-04 campaign when it won 20 of its first 21 games en route to a 28-4 finish. The Lady Bears have gotten the job done with defense as of late, having limited their opponents to 57 points or less in each of their three wins on the current home stand.

SIU Edwardsville will enter Thursday's match-up with a 2-6 mark on the season and an 0-2 record on the road. The Cougars dropped their first four games of the season before rebounding for back-to-back wins against Austin Peay and Saint Louis. SIUE will be attempting to halt a two-game slide following home losses to DePaul and Ball State.    

Quick Hits

  • Sophomore Tia Mays's nine blocked shots Sunday against Arkansas State 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
  • A Lady Bear victory Thursday would give MSU its best start under Nyla Milleson; it would also represent the Lady Bears top effort over the first eight games since 2003-04, when they started 7-1 before winning 20 of their first 21 games
  • The Lady Bears have averaged 87.0 points in their four previous meetings with SIU Edwardsville and have given up no more than 74 in any of the contests
  • As a team Missouri State ranks fourth nationally in blocks per game (6.6), 15th in three-point field goal percentage defense (.236) and 24th in field goal percentage defense (.340)
  • The Lady Bear defense held Arkansas State to just .226 shooting Sunday, representing the lowest single-game field goal percentage for an MSU opponent since Jan. 22, 2004 vs. Texas-Pan American (.210)
  • MSU leads the Missouri Valley Conference in total rebounding (46.9 rpg), field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense, offensive rebounding (16.3 rpg), defensive rebounding (30.6 rpg), and blocked shots
  • Junior guard Jaleshia Roberson moved into ninth place on MSU's all-time three-point field goals list Nov. 30; she needs six more triples to catch former teammate Melissa Busby (136) in the eighth spot and nine more to reach Tahnee Balerio and K.C. Cowgill, who share the No. 6 slot with 139 career threes
  • The Lady Bear bench has outscored the opposing bench by a combined 77-30 margin over the last four contests
  • Reigning MVC Player of the Year Casey Garrison moved past Tahnee Balerio into 14th place on the Lady Bears' career scoring chart with her 12-point performance vs. Eastern Michigan (Dec. 3); she also needs five boards to crack the top 20 list for career rebounds
  • Garrison has knocked down 40-of-45 (.889) free throws on the season to rank second in the MVC and 36th nationally; she has three different streaks of at least nine consecutive makes from the foul line this season, including a career-long string of 13 successful tries in-a-row
  • Along with Christiana Shorter, Garrison ranks among the top 10 MVC players in individual steals per game; Shorter is eighth with a 2.0 spg average, and Garrison (1.9) is ninth
  • Shorter matched a career high with four blocked shots last Friday vs. EMU, climbing to the No. 9 slot on MSU's career list; with 48 blocks in just 40 career games, she needs three more rejections to catch Kimberly McDowell in the eighth spot on the chart
  • Garrison leads the Valley in three-point field goal percentage (.550) and ranks among the top 10 in five individual statistical categories overall
  • Two Lady Bears rank among the MVC's top individual three-point field goal shooters, with Garrison pacing the circuit, followed by Karly Buer's .500 season mark, which ranks third
  • MSU's 4-of-8 effort at the foul line vs. ORU represented its lowest single-game totals for both free throws attempted and made since a 4-of-6 effort vs. Wichita State on March 12, 2009

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 entered 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 seven games of the new season, Garrison was once again among the league leaders in a number of statistical categories, including three-point field goal percentage (1st), scoring (2nd), free throw percentage (2nd), assist-turnover ratio (3rd) and steals (9th).                

Garrison has received help in the back court from freshman Karly Buer, who enters play Thursday fourth on the team with a 9.1 point per game average. A Concordia, Kan., native, Buer is second on the team in assists (18) 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 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 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' 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 secured their second straight +.500 November with last Saturday's win over Louisiana Tech; MSU went 3-2 in November last year following three consecutive losing Novembers from 2006-08
  • 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
  • Missouri State became the 30th Division I program to reach the 700-win mark with its Dec. 3 win over Eastern Michigan
  • 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
  • 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
  • Garrison was named MVC Player of the Week for the second straight week and the sixth time of her career on Nov. 22; she leads the MVC with a 20.4 ppg average and .750 (9-of-12) three-point field goal percentage through five games
  • 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
  • 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 Cougars

SIU Edwardsville is off to a 2-6 start following back-to-back losses to DePaul and Ball State this past weekend. Under third-year head coach Amanda Levens, the Cougars returned four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's squad that finished 8-21. Through the first eight games of the season, however, it has been a freshman leading the way for SIUE. Jazmin Hill (12.6 ppg/2.9 apg) paces the Cougars in both scoring and assists, entering Thursday's game 15-of-44 (.341) from three-point range. Sophomore forward Raven Berry, who posted a double-double against the Lady Bears last December in the two clubs meeting in Edwardsville, is second on the team in both scoring (9.6) and rebounding (6.4). One of just two seniors on the squad, Sydney Stahlberg leads SIUE in rebounding (7.4) and steals (2.1) per game, junior guard while Melia Duncan is averaging 7.0 points and 29.5 minutes per contest for the Cougars.

As a team, SIUE is averaging just over 59 points and giving up 68.5 per game. The Cougars have hit on 73 percent of their free throw attempts this year and have a +1.3 turnover margin coming into Thursday's tilt.

The Coaches

Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her fourth season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 48-52 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 233-88 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.      

Amanda Levens (Arizona State, '02) is in her third year as head coach of the Cougars, entering Thursday's contest with an overall record of 15-51. SIUE is the first head coaching post for Levens, who came to Edwardsville after serving as an assistant at Nevada for five seasons.

Series History

Thursday's meeting will be the fifth between the Lady Bears and Cougars, but just the second since the 1982-83 campaign, MSU's first season at the Division I level. The Lady Bears have taken each of the first four contests in the series with SIUE, including a 76-60 victory last December in Edwardsville. Casey Garrison and Jaleshia Roberson combined for 43 points in the win, as MSU withstood the Cougars' second-half charge by knocking down 20-of-21 free throw attempts as a team on the night.

700 Club

With its victory over Eastern Michigan (Dec. 3), Missouri State became one of three Division I women's programs to reach a substantial milestone last week. The Lady Bears 72-57 win represented the 700th win in program history, making MSU the 30th Division I team to reach the plateau. Duke notched its 700th victory on Nov. 30 with a win over James Madison, and Kansas joined the 700-win club as well the following night with a lopsided win over Maine.

The Lady Bears' previous two milestone victories came on the road; MSU reached the 600-win plateau on Feb. 26, 2004 with a 64-47 win at Illinois State, and joined the 500-victory club on Jan. 8, 2000, when it defeated Drake, 81-69 in Des Moines.

Doing It With 'D'

Missouri State's defense has played a significant role in its three wins on the current home stand. In Sunday's victory over Arkansas State, the Lady Bear defense allowed a season-low 47 points while holding the Red Wolves to just .226 (14-of-62) shooting from the field. That figure represented the lowest single-game shooting percentage for a Missouri State opponent in nearly seven years. Led by Tia Mays's school-record nine rejections, the Lady Bears also matched a season-high for blocked shots (11) vs. ASU.  

MSU's defense also came up big in a 72-57 win over Eastern Michigan (Dec. 3), limiting the Eagles to a .262 field goal percentage. Additionally, MSU's 62-53 win over Louisiana Tech (Nov. 27) marked its first victory when scoring 65 points or less since Feb. 14, 2009, when the Lady Bears defeated Indiana State by a 53-40 score in Terre Haute. The win over LA Tech stopped a string of seven straight losses in such contests, but MSU is just 3-34 under Nyla Milleson when scoring 65 points or less.

All-American Rejects

Through the first seven 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 ranks fourth nationally in blocks per game (2.7), rejected nine shots in MSU's 58-47 win over Arkansas State on Sunday, breaking the school record and matching the all-time Missouri Valley Conference mark for blocks in a single game, held by UNI's Cassie Hager. Mays eclipsed the MSU single-game record held by Sharon Zeilmann for nearly a quarter of a century. Zeilmann swatted away eight shots on two separate occasions during the 1986-87 season, the most recent of which came on Jan. 5, 1987 at Indiana State.

Easy As 1-2-3

As a team, the Lady Bears lead the MVC in field goal percentage defense (.340), three-point field goal percentage defense (.236), blocked shots (6.6 bpg), total rebounding (46.9 rpg), defensive rebounding (30.6 rpg) and offensive rebounding (16.3 rpg), and rank first, second or third in 11 different team statistical categories.

Bench Marks

After being outscored in each of the first three games of the season, Missouri State's bench has outscored the last four Lady Bear opponents by a combined 77-30 margin. 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.

Double Your Trouble

The combined efforts of Jasmine Malone and Christiana Shorter vs. Eastern Michigan (Dec. 3) represented the first time MSU teammates have finished with double-doubles in the same game since January 2009, when Casey Garrison and Maggie Dwyer accomplished the feat in back-to-back games against Wichita State (Jan. 24) and Evansville (Jan. 27). Malone, who finished with a team-high 18 points, pulled down 10 rebounds to match a career high and record her first career double-double. Shorter turned in her best all-around effort of the season with a 15-point, 15-board night, good for the ninth double of her MSU career. Garrison just missed joining the duo in what would have been the first triple double-double on record at Missouri State, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds in her return from an ankle injury that limited her to just 11 minutes in MSU's Nov. 30 loss to Oral Roberts.

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.

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

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.

Bears Live

Throughout the 2010-11 season, Lady Bear basketball will be shown on Missouri State's on-line video channel, Bears Live -- MSU's premium broadband video destination for exclusive live and on-demand streaming video and audio content. All home games will be streamed with the exception of regionally- and nationally-televised games. Fans wanting to watch Bears and Lady Bears basketball through the Bears Live feature can subscribe at

Links to live game stats (when available) and KTXR's free, on-line broadcast of every Missouri State women's basketball game can be found on the Lady Bears' Gameday Guide, located on the MSU Athletics Web site.



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