Lady Bears close out nonconference slate against Western Kentucky
The Missouri State Lady Bears (2-8) will conclude their 2007-08 non-conference schedule Saturday afternoon when they take on the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers (7-5) out of the Sun Belt Conference in a 4 p.m. contest in Bowling Green, Ky.
Missouri State will be looking to build on its 97-89 victory over Canisius last Friday (Dec. 21) in Springfield. The Lady Bears will also be attempting to avoid their worst non-conference showing since the 1985-86 season, when they went 1-8.
Saturday’s game, the 1100th in school history, will be broadcast locally in Springfield on KTXR 101.3 FM and on the web at www.radiospringfield.com. Live stats will be available at Western Kentucky’s athletics website, www.wkusports.com.
Last Time Out: MSU shot a season-high 50 percent from the floor, including 15-of-31 from three point range, last Friday in a 97-89 win over Canisius. the Lady Bears benefitted from Maggie Dwyer’s career-high 29 points and the three-point shooting of Melissa Busby in their best offensive showing since the 2002-03 season.
Dwyer established a new career scoring high for the third consecutive game, pouring home 17 in the second half to help the Lady Bears turn around a one-point halftime deficit and pick up their second win of the season. Busby scored 18 in the opening stanza and drained seven three-pointers in all to total 23 points, just one shy of her career-best scoring night.
The Lady Bears came out firing in the first half, building a 21-5 lead behind Busby’s hot hand, as the sophomore guard knocked down five three-pointers in the first seven minutes of the ballgame. Despite shooting .500 (10-of-20) for the half from three-point range, the Lady Bears found themselves down 44-43 at the break, as the Golden Griffins answered with an 18-9 spurt to close the half, taking their first lead of the game on Brittan Russell’s three-pointer at the buzzer.
Missouri State took control of the game for good when Dwyer’s three-point play with 16:18 left in the game turned a 54-52 Lady Bear lead into a five-point advantage and sparked a 29-14 run that saw MSU stretch its lead to 17 points with just over seven minutes to play. Busby kicked off an 8-0 run with her seventh three of the game with 10:16 left on the clock. Jacque Griggs scored on the Lady Bears’ next possession, and Marisha Brown’s trey moments later made it a 76-63 ballgame. After that, the Golden Griffins cut the deficit to single digits just once before Amanda Cavo’s seventh three of the night at the horn provided the final scoring margin.
Dwyer accounted for 12 points during the decisive Missouri State scoring spurt and finished the night 10-of-21 from the floor. Busby’s seven triples ranks sixth all-time at Missouri State, matching the single-game performances of four other Lady Bears.
Senior guard Tahnee Balerio contributed her best all-around game of the season with a 17-point, 10-assist effort, and Brown gave the Lady Bears a big lift off the bench with a 14-point night.
The Coaches: Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, ’85) is 2-8 in her first season as the head coach at Missouri State and 187-44 overall. The Goodland, Kan., native led Drury University to a 185-36 mark 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 and advanced 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.
Mary Taylor Cowles (Western Kentucky, ’92) is 119-54 in her sixth season as head coach at WKU and overall. Cowles led the Lady Toppers to Sun Belt East Division titles in each of her first four seasons en route to earning the conference’s coach of the year honor in 2003 and 2006. Under Cowles direction WKU has posted five straight 20-win seasons and has made postseason tournament appearances in each of those campaigns.
Series Record: Saturday’s game will be the sixth meeting between the Lady Bears and Lady Toppers, with MSU holding a slight 3-2 edge following victories in three of the last four contests. The two teams have split their previous two games in Bowling Green.
In the first and most celebrated meeting between the two programs, Western Kentucky came away with an 84-72 win in the 1992 NCAA Final Four at the Los Angeles Sports Arena to advance to the national championship game. MSU exacted its revenge the following season when it escaped Bowling Green with a 60-59 victory. The Lady Bears ran away with a 25-point win in Springfield in November of 1993, and the Lady Toppers bested Missouri State, 74-69, at E.A. Diddle Arena on Jan. 29, 2001, becoming the only team to defeat both Lady Bear Final Four squads.
Missouri State cruised to an 89-63 win in its last meeting with WKU (Feb. 12, 2002).
Scouting Western Kentucky: The Lady Toppers return six letterwinners and four starters from last year’s 23-9 squad that finished second in the SBC East Division before advancing to the semifinal round of the WNIT. Senior All-American Crystal Kelly ranked second nationally in both scoring (23.8) and field-goal percentage (.621) in 2006-07 and is off to another strong start this season. The 6-3 forward is scoring at a 22.1 ppg. clip, the fourth-highest average in Division I, while pulling down 9.3 boards per outing. She is WKU’s all-time leader in points (2,306), scoring average (21.4 ppg.), field-goal percentage (.602), rebound average (9.4 rpg.), free throws made (728) and attempted (941). A three-time All-Sun Belt Conference first-teamer, Kelly will move into sole possession of the top spot on the Lady Toppers’ career rebounding list with her first board Saturday. Sophomore guard Kenzie Rich (10.7 ppg.) started 20 games a year ago and is averaging double figures through the first 12 games of 2007-08. She has connected on 18 three-point attempts and has been deadly from the charity stripe (.960). Another returning starter, junior forward Dominique Duck, earned third-team all-conference honors last season and is contributing 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game so far this year. Senior guard Charlotte Marshall and freshman guard Hope Brown have combined for 23 starts and over 13 points per game so far this season.
As a team, Western Kentucky is shooting .432 from the floor, including .321 from three-point range, while outscoring the opposition by a 213-149 margin from the foul line. The Lady Toppers have had difficulties taking care of the basketball, turning it over an average of 20.6 times per contest. They have given up an average of 72.3 points per game while allowing their opponents to shoot .442 from the field.
WKU has been tough to beat at home, going 4-1 so far in 2007-08. In 34 seasons, the Lady Toppers are 390-78 all-time in E.A. Diddle Arena.
Instant O: After averaging just 57.8 points per game in their first eight contests of the season, the Lady Bears have scored 176 over their past two games. That figure represents the best two-game scoring total for MSU since December 2004, when the Lady Bears knocked off Saint Louis (86-56) and Eastern Kentucky (91-81) in succession. Additionally, MSU’s 97 points vs. Canisius on Friday was its highest point total since a 107-53 win over Evansville on March 8, 2003.
Balerio Back in Gear: Senior guard Tahnee Balerio has been a driving force in the Lady Bears’ offensive turnaround over the last two games. After totaling just 14 assists in MSU’s first eight games, the Buhler, Kan., native registered a career-high 12 against Oral Roberts, then handed out 10 more in the win over Canisius (Dec. 21). Balerio also tallied 17 points in the victory last Friday, matching her best scoring effort since a 20-point performance in the Lady Bears’ season-opener at Texas (Nov. 11).
Busby Makes her Mark: Sophomore guard Melissa Busby has made the most of her return to the Missouri State starting lineup, totaling 47 of her 66 points on the season in the Lady Bears’ last two contests. In her first start of the season Busby connected on 6-of-11 three-point tries and led the Lady Bears with a career-high 24 points in a 96-79 loss at Oral Roberts (Dec. 15). She followed that up with another strong offensive showing in the Lady Bears’ win over Canisius on Friday (Dec. 21). Busby knocked down six three-pointers in the first half and finished with 23 points for the game on 7-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc.
Mags to Riches: Junior forward Maggie Dwyer has found her shooting stroke over the Lady Bears’ last five contests. While averaging a team-high 19.4 points per game over that stretch, Dwyer has shot .466 from the field, including a red-hot .500 from three-point range after connecting on just 28.6 percent of her field-goal attempts in Missouri State’s first five games of the season. She has also averaged 31.2 minutes per outing, also a team high, while pulling down 6.0 boards per contest in her last five games.
No Cupcakes Here: Missouri State’s first 10 non-conference opponents have combined to go 64-45 (.587) in 2007-08. The Lady Bears’ schedule has produced two games against ranked opponents (#22 Texas and #17 DePaul), and all but Tulsa (3-9), Saint Louis (4-8) and Canisius (4-7) of MSU’s 10 opponents thus far are at the .500 mark or above.
On the Road Again: Since snapping a seven-game road losing streak with an 83-76 win over Indiana State in Terre Haute last January, the Lady Bears have dropped their last 12 contests on the road and their last 13 away from Hammons Student Center overall. Over the last two years, Missouri State has won just two true road games and only four of its 32 games away from Hammons.
A Look at the Numbers: Several Lady Bears rank among the Missouri Valley Conference’s statistical leaders through the first quarter of the season. Maggie Dwyer leads the MVC in three-point field-goal percentage (.475), while Tiff Terwelp is the league’s fourth-leading rebounder with a 7.7 rpg. average. Additionally, Tahnee Balerio is fifth in the Valley in assists per game (3.6) and Jacque Griggs ranks ninth in rebounding (6.0). As a team Missouri State ranks second in the Valley in total rebounding at 41.2 rpg., but last in rebounding defense at 42.6 rpg. The Lady Bears are fifth in field-goal percentage defense (.429) and fourth in blocked shots (2.90 bpg.).
Missouri State ranks either last or next-to-last in eight categories, including scoring defense, scoring margin, free-throw percentage, field goal percentage, assists, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover margin and rebounding defense.
For the Record Books: The Lady Bears’ 96-79 loss at Oral Roberts (Dec. 15) will be remembered for several significant individual performances that left their mark on the Missouri State record book. Melissa Busby’s six treys matched seven other performances by a Lady Bear for the 10th-most three-point field goals made in a single game. Melody Howard (twice), Tina Robbins (12/5/93 at Iowa), Jackie Stiles (twice) and Kari Koch (twice) also buried six triples in a game for MSU.
Tahnee Balerio’s seven steals marked a new career high for the senior point guard and equaled the single-game efforts of 13 other Lady Bears for the seventh-best all-time performance in school history. Additionally, Balerio’s 12 assists matched her career best in that category (2/23/06 vs. Creighton) and ranks as the No. 10 single-game total, along with 11 other such performances by MSU players.
Century Mark for Terwelp: Senior forward Tiff Terwelp played in her 100th career contest for Missouri State in the loss at Oral Roberts (Dec. 15), becoming the 34th Lady Bear to top the century mark in games played. Fellow senior Tahnee Balerio needs just three more games to reach the 100-game plateau for her MSU career.
Double Trouble: A Lady Bear has finished in double figures in rebounding in six of MSU’s last eight contests. Four different players have posted double-digit rebound games in that span, and three of those have registered point-rebound double-doubles, including Tiff Terwelp (vs. Arkansas State), Jacque Griggs (vs. UALR) and Maggie Dwyer (vs. Tulsa). In all, eight Lady Bears have established new single-game rebounding highs so far in 2007-08.
Dwyer Honored: Junior forward Maggie Dwyer received her second MVC Newcomer of the Week honor Dec. 26 following a career-high 29-point effort in MSU’s win over Canisius (Dec. 21). Dwyer was similarly honored Dec. 10 after averaging a team-best 15 points to go along with six boards as Missouri State split its two contests against Tulsa and Saint Louis.
Behind Dwyer’s 10-of-21 shooting performance against Canisius, MSU shot a season-high 50 percent from the floor, and its 97 points represented the Lady Bears’ best offensive showing since the 2002-03 season. Dwyer established a new career scoring high for the third consecutive game, pouring home 17 in the second half to help the Lady Bears turn around a one-point halftime deficit and pick up their second win of the season.
Missouri State took control of the game for good when Dwyer’s three-point play with 16:18 left in the game turned a 54-52 Lady Bear lead into a five-point advantage and sparked a 29-14 run that saw MSU stretch its lead to as many as 17 points. The Grand Haven, Mich., product accounted for 12 points during the decisive Missouri State scoring spurt and finished the night with seven rebounds and three assists.
Adams Arrives: The Lady Bears received a boost with the addition of Jamie Adams, a two-year MSU volleyball starter who began practicing with the Lady Bears the week of Dec. 10. Adams scored four points, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and recorded two blocks in her Lady Bear debut vs. Oral Roberts (Dec. 15).
Adams, who will have two years of basketball eligibility, earned second-team All-MVC honors in 2006 and 2007 and helped the volleyball Bears to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Lord, Wyett Leave Lady Bears: Sophomore center Ashley Lord and junior forward Breton Wyett have elected to leave the Lady Bear program.
Lord played in all 28 games for the Lady Bears as a freshman in 2006-07, starting 18 contests while averaging 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds. This season, the Moran, Kan., native saw action in each of MSU's first three contests, averaging 0.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in just 6.7 minutes of playing time per game.
Wyett was the Lady Bears' second-leading scorer last year, averaging 10.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per outing while shooting a team-high .462 from the field. She led the Missouri Valley Conference in blocks per game with a 1.96 average and recorded 45 blocks in all, the fourth-highest single-season total in MSU history. Wyett leaves Missouri State as the program's No. 2 all-time shot-blocker with 96 career rejections.
On this Date in Lady Bears History: December 29, 1993 - Arkansas 66, #21 Missouri State 63 - The Lady Bears dropped their third straight game in their first trip to Bud Walton Arena, as Kimberly Wilson’s three-point play with 0:10 left in regulation was the difference. MSU squandered a chance to tie it up in the closing seconds when it failed to convert a pair of free throws. The Lady Bears had erased a seven-point halftime deficit and built a 62-58 lead with 3:30 to play but could not hold on. The loss sent MSU to 4-4 on the season, but the Lady Bears would go on to win 21 of their next 22 games before bowing out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Virginia.
Balerio on Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Watch List: In recognition of her accomplishments both on and off the court, senior guard Tahnee Balerio has been selected as one of 30 initial candidates for the 2007-08 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for women’s basketball.
Lowe’s Senior CLASS (an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) Award recognizes college senior athletes who remain committed to their university and pursue the many rewards that a senior season can bring.
Balerio is one of 30 candidates in the running for the 2008 women’s basketball award, for which 10 finalists will be selected in early February. The winner will be announced at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla., during the weekend of April 5-6.
One Down: MSU’s 72-61 victory over Tulsa on Dec. 4 allowed the Lady Bears to cross a number of items off their to do list, including:
►posting their first win of the 2007-08 season after six straight losses to begin the campaign;
►giving new head coach Nyla Milleson her first win at MSU and as a Division I head coach;
►halting a school record-tying 10-game losing streak dating back to February of 2007;
►ending a four-game home losing streak, their longest since the 1985-86 season;
MSU vs. Ranked Opponents: With its 80-48 loss at #17 DePaul on Dec. 2, Missouri State dropped to 0-2 vs. ranked opponents on the season. The Lady Bears are now 19-36 all-time versus ranked opponents and have lost 10 straight against top 25 teams.
Missouri State’s last win over a ranked foe came against Gail Goestenkors’ fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils in the 2001 NCAA West Regional semifinal (3/24/01).
MSU’s season opener at #22 Texas was the Lady Bears’ first opener versus a ranked opponent since the 2000-01 season when they defeated #10 LSU, 85-75. MSU is 2-2 all-time versus ranked teams in season openers.
Climbing the Charts: With her 17-point effort versus UTSA (Nov. 29), Tahnee Balerio topped the 900 career point mark and moved up to the No. 20 spot on the Lady Bears’ career scoring chart. Balerio’s first field goal of the night against the Roadrunners with 17:04 to play in the first half pushed her past Lynne Miller and Kimberly Scoggin, who previously shared the 20th spot at 891 career points. Balerio needs 16 more points to reach Gail Beck in the No.19 spot on the chart and 51 points to become the 19th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. Tiff Terwelp also broke into the top 30 when she scored her 731st career point vs. DePaul (Dec. 2) to move past Meg Tierney for the 30th spot.
Balerio Cracks Career Top 10 Lists: Senior guard Tahnee Balerio passed Jamie Bartlett for the No. 6 spot on MSU’s career top 10 chart for three-point field-goal attempts with her only attempt of the night against Saint Louis (Dec. 7). She enters Saturday’s game needing 43 more tries to reach the fifth spot on the chart, currently held by Sarah Klaassen.
Balerio also moved past current Lady Bear assistant coach Carly (Deer) Stubblefield for the No. 9 slot on MSU’s all-time three-point field goals list last season with her 72nd career trey in a 68-65 loss at Wichita State (2/3/07). Balerio now has 107 career threes, which is 13 shy of Bartlett in the eighth spot on the chart.
Windex Woman: Senior forward Tiff Terwelp cleaned the glass to the tune of 18 rebounds in the loss at ASU. That effort matched single-game performances by Lynn Strubberg (1/28/83 at Northwest Missouri St.) and Roshonda Reed (1/16/99 at Indiana St.) for the third-highest rebound total in MSU history. Terwelp’s previous career-high of 16 boards came in a 70-51 loss at Tulsa last December.
Welcome Wagon: Milleson and her staff have received four commitments to join the Lady Bears in 2008 during the November early signing period. Local products Lacey Boshe (Marshfield, Mo.) and Casey Garrison (Bolivar, Mo.) will be joined by a pair of Texas prep standouts, Jasmine Malone (San Antonio) and Regan Soldner (Southlake) in the class of 2008.
700/600 Club: Tiff Terwelp become the 12th Lady Bear to reach the career 700-point, 600-rebound plateau when she grabbed a team-high 10 boards in MSU’s loss to UTSA (Nov. 29). The Quincy, Ill., native surpassed the 700-point mark with a nine-point effort vs. Green Bay on Nov. 17. She is now 11th all-time on the school’s rebounding list with 635 for her career after passing Sharon Zeilmann (625) with three boards in the loss at Oral Roberts (Dec. 15). Terwelp needs 13 more rebounds to crack the top 10.
For Openers: With their 92-55 loss at #22 Texas, the Lady Bears are now 20-19 all-time in season openers and have dropped their last four contests on opening night. The 37-point setback is the largest margin of defeat in a MSU season opener since the Lady Bears lost a 43-point decision (94-51) at Arkansas to start the 1985-86 season. It is also MSU’s worst loss since Jan. 6, 2002, when it fell by an 84-47 score at Creighton.
This season marks the fifth year in a row Missouri State has played its first game away from Hammons Student Center. Last year, MSU lost to Iowa, 79-70, in its season opener in Kansas City after dropping the first game of 2005-06 at Arkansas State and its 2004-05 opener at Richmond.
Missouri State Postseason Run: One or both of the MSU basketball teams have made postseason appearances in each of the last 22 years.
With last year’s 7-21 finish, the Lady Bears missed the postseason for the first time since the 1996-97 season. The MSU women have seen postseason action in nine of the past 10 years and in 15 out of the last 17 seasons, dating back to the 1990-91 campaign.
Preseason Picks: Missouri State was picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll of coaches, media and sports information directors. The Lady Bears received 136 points, while preseason favorite Drake received 24 of 40 first-place votes and 348 total points.
MSU Peaks in The Valley: The Lady Bears are 195-71 all-time against Valley opponents with a 115-20 home record against league foes. Since joining the MVC in 1992, the Lady Bears have won at least a share of eight regular-season titles and seven conference tournaments. Missouri State has played in 10 of the 15 Valley tournament championship games.
Personnel: The 2007-08 Lady Bears’ roster includes two seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. The 11-member group includes four returning letterwinners and seven newcomers. The Lady Bears return three starters from last season, including All-MVC first team guard Tahnee Balerio. Also returning are 2006-07 starters Tiff Terwelp and Roxy Stiles. Sophomore guard Melissa Busby also returns for MSU following a strong debut campaign. Newcomers include Jamie Adams, Marisha Brown, Tiffany Coppage, Maggie Dwyer, Jacque Griggs, Janette Jackson and Jasmyne Watson.
Lady Bear Captains: Senior Tahnee Balerio, senior Tiff Terwelp and junior Tiffany Coppage will serve as tri-captains for the 2007-08 season. This marks the second year in a row Balerio and Terwelp have been selected Lady Bear captains.
If You Build It They Will Come: The Lady Bears are playing their 32nd and final season in Hammons Student Center in 2007-08. Missouri State broke ground on the $67 million JQH Arena on Dec. 21, 2006 in the east parking lot adjacent to Hammons. The new 11,000-seat arena is slated for completion in time for the start of the 2008-09 basketball season. Last year the Lady Bears drew 81,349 fans, or an average of 5,424 per contest, good for 18th in the nation. Missouri State has ranked in the top 20 nationally in average attendance in each of the last 17 seasons, including 1992-93 when the Lady Bears led all of Division I in that category.
Home Sweet Hammons: The Lady Bears are 321-105 (.754) at home since HSC opened in 1976-77. MSU has had 24 winning seasons, four losing campaigns and three seasons at .500 at HSC. The Lady Bears have gone undefeated at HSC six times (1989-90, 1991-92, 1993-94, 1995-96, 2000-01, 2003-04). From Dec. 18, 1990 to Dec. 27, 1992 the Lady Bears won 30 consecutive games at Hammons Student Center. MSU also had a 24-game winning streak dating from Feb. 15, 2003 before falling at home to #1 LSU in December of 2004. Over the last 18 seasons, Missouri State has averaged more than 13 wins per season and fewer than three losses in that same time. Missouri State has ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance for 15 of the last 17 seasons and has been in the top 10 in 11 of those years.
Missouri State All-Time: Missouri State is in its 39th season of women’s collegiate basketball and has an all-time record of 655-444 (.596) for a total of 1,099 games. 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.
Affiliation: Missouri State is in its 26th NCAA Division I season and 16th 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.