Missouri State Lady Bears (7-2)
Coppin State Eagles (2-5) Date: Friday, Dec. 17, 2010Time: 3:30 p.m. (Central)
Site: Physical Education Complex (4,100)Location: Baltimore, Md.Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Rob Evans)TV: None
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com Live Stats and Video: None
The Missouri State Lady Bears will begin a three-game East Coast road swing in search of their fifth consecutive win Friday when they take on the Coppin State Eagles in a 3:30 p.m. (Central) contest in Baltimore, Md. The Lady Bears knocked off Saint Louis by a 67-57 score Sunday in St. Louis to start a four-game road trip that will close out the non-conference portion of the 2010-11 schedule.
Friday's meeting will be the first between the Lady Bears and the Eagles and just the second game ever for Missouri State against a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. After taking on 20th-ranked Georgetown in Washington D.C. Sunday afternoon, the Lady Bears will conclude their trip with a Tuesday match-up against another MEAC opponent, Morgan State.
Coppin State will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak Friday following losses to Morgan State and Virginia Commonwealth. The contest will be the Lady Bears' first in the state of Maryland since the March 20, 1993, when they knocked off host Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Cole Field House in College Park.
- Missouri State's 7-2 start is its best in four seasons under Nyla Milleson; it also represents the Lady Bears' top effort over the first nine games since 2003-04
- The Lady Bears were the top-ranked Valley team at No.42 in this week's RPI ratings; Creighton (64) and Illinois State (82) were also among the top 100
- The MSU defense has held its last four opponents under .300 shooting and ranks eighth nationally for field goal percentage defense (.321)
- The Lady Bears set or matched five JQH Arena records Dec. 9 vs. SIU Edwardsville, including fewest points allowed (39), fewest points in a half (17), fewest field goals allowed (13), lowest field goal percentage allowed (.210) and widest margin of victory (+29)
- SIU Edwardsville's 39 points marked the lowest point total for a Lady Bear opponent since Jan. 1, 2004, when MSU held SLU to 33 points
- MSU leads the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring defense (59.9), total rebounding (47.9 rpg), field goal percentage defense (.321), three-point field goal percentage defense (.254), offensive rebounding (16.3 rpg), defensive rebounding (31.6 rpg), and blocked shots (6.6)
- Tia Mays leads the MVC and ranks 13th among all Division I players in blocked shots (2.8 bpg); she needs just two more rejections to climb into the MSU single-season top 10 for blocks
- Mays's nine blocked shots against Arkansas State (Dec. 5) 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
- Jaleshia Roberson moved into ninth place on MSU's all-time three-point field goals list Nov. 30; she needs five more triples to catch former teammate Melissa Busby (136) in the eighth spot and eight more to reach Tahnee Balerio and K.C. Cowgill, who share the No. 6 slot with 139 career threes
- The MSU bench outscored the opposing bench by a combined 110-48 margin over their last six 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 needs three points to top the 1,300-point mark and 36 points to catch Secelia Winkfield in the 13th spot on the career scoring list
- Garrison has knocked down 43-of-48 (.896) free throws on the season to rank second in the MVC and 31st 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
- Christiana Shorter ranks among the top 10 in six individual statistical categories, including rebounding, field goal percentage, offensive rebounding, blocks, defensive rebounding and steals
- Jasmine Malone became the 53rd Missouri State player and the fourth current Lady Bear to surpass the 500-point mark for her MSU career Dec. 9 with her 16-point effort vs. SIU Edwardsville, joining Garrison, Roberson and Lacey Boshe; Shorter needs just 10 points to join the 500 club as well
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 nine games of the new season, Garrison is once again among the league leaders in a number of statistical categories, including scoring (2nd), free throw percentage (2nd), three-point field goal percentage (2nd), assist-turnover ratio (3rd), assists (9th), offensive rebounding (10th) and minutes played (10th).
Garrison has received help in the back court from fellow junior Jasmine Malone, who is tied for second on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (6.0 rpg), as well as freshman Karly Buer, who enters the week fourth on the team with a 7.1 point per game average. A Concordia, Kan., native, Buer is third in the MVC in three-point field goal percentage (.450) and second on the team in assists (24) 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 leads the club in steals (1.8 spg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg), while her 11.0 ppg average is tied for second on the squad. Sophomore Tia Mays (5.7 ppg/7.6 rpg) has also played a significant role for MSU, leading the Lady Bears' defensive resurgence with a league-high 2.8 blocks per game average.
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
- MSU's Dec. 9 defensive effort vs. SIU Edwardsville (13-of-62) matched MSU's Jan. 22, 2004 performance vs. Texas-Pan American for the second-lowest single-game opponent field goal percentage on record at Missouri State
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 Eagles
Coppin State enters play Friday with a 2-5 mark following back-to-back losses to Morgan State and Virginia Commonwealth. Head coach Derek Brown welcomed back eight letterwinners, including two starters, from last year's 10-19 squad, but it has been a freshman who has shouldered the load for the Eagles so far. Larissa Carter, a 6-3 center, leads the CSU attack with averages of 11.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest, while shooting 50 percent from the field. She receives help in the front court from sophomore Leola Spotwood and junior Jeanine Manley, who combine for over 18 points and 10 boards per outing. Junior Crystal Whittington has also played a key role for CSU, averaging 8.7 points and 7.0 rebounds to help the Eagles post a +1.7 rebound margin through the first seven games of the season.
On the perimeter, CSU is led by sophomore Shawntae Payne and freshman Ashle Craig. Payne has a team-high 19 assists to go along with a 7.6 ppg average, while Craig is contributing 6.3 points and nearly two assists per game to the Eagles' cause,
As a team, CSU ranked 14th nationally in steals (13.4) per game coming into the week, but just 326th in turnovers (25.0). The Eagles have also struggled to protect the three-point line, allowing the opposition to shoot 42.2 percent to rank dead last among all Division I programs.
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her fourth season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 50-52 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 235-88 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.
Derek Brown is 182-145 in his 12th season as head coach of the Eagles and overall. A long-time assistant to Coppin State men's basketball coach Ron Mitchell, Brown took over the helm of the Eagles program in December 1999. Under Brown's leadership, the Eagles have made five trips to the postseason, including NCAA Tournament appearances in 2005, 2006 and 2008. CSU's 2005-06 squad led the nation with a 21-game winning streak and finished 18-0 in the MEAC. Brown has twice been named MEAC Coach of the Year.
Friday's contest will be the first ever between Missouri State and Coppin State. It will also mark the Lady Bears' first trip to the state of Maryland since 1993, when they defeated host Maryland in College Park in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Lady Bears won their only previous meeting with a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, claiming a 71-35 victory over Morgan State on Dec. 7, 1996 in Springfield.
With seven wins in its first nine games, Missouri State is off to its best start under fourth-year head coach Nyla Milleson. The Lady Bears' 7-2 mark is their best through nine games since 2003-04, when they began the season with victories in 20 of their first 21 games en route to a 28-4 campaign. Missouri State has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the five seasons it has started with at least eight wins in its first 10 games since moving to Division I status in 1982.
The Defense Never Rests
Missouri State's defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the young season, entering the week with the No. 8 field goal percentage (.321) defense in the country. The Lady Bears have held each of their last four opponents under .300 from the field, a first in the the 42-year history of the program. MSU also leads The Valley in scoring defense (59.9), three-point field goal percentage defense (.254) and blocked shots (6.6), ranking fourth in the nation in the latter category.
Strength In Numbers
The Lady Bears ranked 42nd in this week's College Basketball News RPI Report (Dec. 12), making them the highest rated Valley team in the report. Creighton (64th) and Illinois State (82) also ranked among the top 100 teams, while the Valley was the 10th-highest rated conference.
Missouri State is also drawing recognition in several mid-major polls, including the CollegeInsider.com Women's Mid-Major Top 25 (Dec. 14), which ranked the Lady Bears No. 11, just one spot behind Illinois State, which was the highest rated Valley squad in the poll.
The Lady Bears wrapped up their longest regular-season home stand in 32 years with three straight wins and a 4-1 mark overall. Over the five-game stretch, Missouri State held the opposition to a collective .279 shooting percentage and an average of just 54.2 points per contest. In their final non-conference home game of the season against SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 9), the Lady Bears matched or eclipsed five different JQH Arena team single-game records, including fewest points allowed (39), fewest points in a half (17), fewest field goals allowed (13), lowest field goal percentage allowed (.210) and widest margin of victory (+29).
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.
Through the first nine 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 ranked 13th nationally in blocks per game coming into the week, rejected nine shots in MSU's 58-47 win over Arkansas State (Dec. 5), 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.
Mays followed up that effort with a six-block night against SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 9), and needs just two more rejections to climb into the MSU single-season top 10 for blocks.
Easy As 1-2-3
As a team, the Lady Bears lead the MVC in scoring defense (59.9), field goal percentage defense (.321), three-point field goal percentage defense (.254), blocked shots (6.6 bpg), total rebounding (47.9 rpg), defensive rebounding (31.6 rpg) and offensive rebounding (16.3 rpg), and rank first, second or third in 11 different team statistical categories.
After being outscored in each of the first three games of the season, Missouri State's bench has outscored the last five Lady Bear opponents by a combined 110-48 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.
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 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.
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 www.missouristatebears.com.
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.