Lady Bears Look for Eighth-Straight Valley Home Win Sunday Against Indiana State

Lady Bears Look for Eighth-Straight Valley Home Win Sunday Against Indiana State

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Missouri State Lady Bears (13-4, 4-1 MVC) 

vs. 

Indiana State Sycamores (8-7, 2-2 MVC) 

Date: Sunday, January 16, 2011Time: 2:05 p.m.
Site: JQH Arena (11,000)Location: Springfield, Mo.
Radio: KTXR 101.3 FM (Rob Evans, Lynne Miller)TV: KCZ Ozarks CW (Ned Reynolds, Mike Scott)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.com
             

Game Overview
After stopping one streak against a Missouri Valley Conference foe this week, the Missouri State Lady Bears will look to extend another Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Indiana State Sycamores to JQH Arena for a 2:05 p.m. contest.

MSU, which topped Illinois State Tuesday to end an eight-game skid versus the Redbirds, will be shooting for its fifth consecutive win over the Sycamores. Last year, the Lady Bears defeated ISU at home by a 69-65 margin, then recorded an 11-point win in the return trip to Terre Haute. MSU will also look to extend its home-court dominance of the Sycamores, as the Lady Bears have won 25 of the previous 29 meetings in Springfield.

The Sycamores, who posted a convincing home win over Illinois State as well last weekend, will be trying to rebound from a 73-56 Thursday night setback to Wichita State. Indiana State suffered through a miserable .254 shooting night and was outscored 30-12 in the paint against the Shockers. ISU will be aiming for its first road victory of the 2010-11 season, entering the weekend 0-5 in true road contests.

Quick Hits
► With its victory over Illinois State Tuesday, Missouri State has its best start (13-4) through 17 games under Nyla Milleson and their top mark since the 2003-04 season

► Sunday's game will be the first match-up for Milleson against ISU head coach Teri Moren at the Divison I level, but the two squared off twice as Division II head coaches, with Milleson's Drury squad getting the better of Moren's University of Indianapolis teams on both occasions

► The Lady Bears came in at No. 57 in this week's RPI ratings, making them the top-rated Valley team in the report; Creighton (64) and Illinois State (81) were also listed among the top 100

► Missouri State has won four straight games against Indiana State, marking the fifth streak of at least four wins in-a-row for the Lady Bears in their series history with the Sycamores

► Missouri State will be shooting for its eighth straight Valley home win Sunday; The Lady Bears are 20-10 at home in conference play under Milleson

► Naismith Trophy candidate Casey Garrison moved past Cindy Henderson into 10th place on the Lady Bears' career scoring chart with her 13-point performance last Saturday at Bradley; she needs 56 more points to catch Lisa Davies (1,469) in the No. 9 spot

► Garrison has knocked down 65-of-70 (.929) free throws on the season to lead the MVC and rank ninth in all of Division I; she currently has hit 27 straight attempts and has four different streaks of at least nine straight makes from the foul line this season and two of at least 13 straight conversions

► Garrison has also converted 12 of her last 16 field goal attempts, including four of her last six three-point attempts, since missing her last five tries from the floor at UNI on Jan. 2

► MSU leads The Valley in scoring defense (59.6 ppg), scoring margin (+9.9), total rebounding (46.5 rpg), field goal percentage defense (.322), three-point field goal percentage defense (.266), rebounding margin (+5.9) defensive rebounding (31.2 rpg), offensive rebounding (15.3 rpg) and blocked shots (6.6)

► The Lady Bear defense is among the nation's leaders in blocks per game (5th), field goal percentage defense (5th) and three-point field goal percentage defense (24th)

► Missouri State has kept seven opponents under .300 from the field this season; prior to the start of this year, the Lady Bears had held just four of their previous 93 foes below the 30 percent mark during Milleson's tenure

► Tia Mays leads the MVC in blocked shots (3.5 bpg), moving up to third on the MSU single-season top 10 blocks list with three rejections Jan. 6 at UNI; she has at least five blocks in six contests and has posted five boards or more in 14 straight games

► Jaleshia Roberson moved into sole possession of fifth place on MSU's all-time three-point field goals list with four treys vs. Illinois State on Tuesday; she needs 70 threes to catch Jackie Stiles (221) in the No. 4 spot and 120 to reach Kari Koch's school record of 271 career triples

► Roberson also climbed in the school's career top 30 scoring list with her 18-point performance vs. ISU, passing Mary Phyl Dwight and Tonya Baucom to move up to 28th with 828 points

► Christiana Shorter ranks among the Valley's top 10 in five individual statistical categories, including rebounding, field goal percentage, offensive rebounding, blocks and defensive rebounding

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 enter 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 17 games of this season, Garrison is once again among the league leaders in a number of statistical categories, including free throw percentage (1st), scoring (2nd), assist-turnover ratio (3rd) three-point field goal percentage (3rd), assists (6th) and steals (8th).

Garrison has received help in the back court from fellow junior Jasmine Malone, who ranks third on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (5.7 rpg). Roberson (7.9 ppg) has come on strong as of late with four double-digit scoring efforts in MSU's five MVC games. Freshman Karly Buer, who enters Sunday's game fifth on the team with a 5.9 point per game average, has also been a key cog in the Lady Bear attack. A Concordia, Kan., native, Buer was second on the team in assists (34) 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 enters the weekend leading the Valley in field goal percentage (.533) and tied for second in rebounding (8.1 rpg) while her 12.0 ppg average was second on the squad and 14th in the conference. Sophomore Tia Mays (4.8 ppg/7.1 rpg) has also played a significant role for MSU, leading the Lady Bears' defensive resurgence with a league-high average of 3.5 blocks per game.

Lady Bear Notables
► Missouri State's 13-4 start is its best in four seasons under Nyla Milleson and overall since 2003-04, when they started 20-1

► 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' win over SIU (Dec. 31) gave them a school-record seven wins in the month of December; MSU's 7-1 mark in December represents its best in any month since going 8-1 in January of 2005; the Lady Bears have won 16 of their last 18 December games over the last three years

► 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; it took the Lady Bears less than two weeks to hold another opponent to the same total, limiting Morgan State to 39 points on Dec. 21

► The Lady Bear defense limited Morgan State (Dec. 21) to just 14-of-72 (.194) shooting, marking the second-lowest single-game field goal percentage on record for a Missouri State opponent; that performance followed a similar effort vs. SIU Edwardsville (.210) on Dec. 9 which matched MSU's Jan. 22, 2004 performance vs. Texas-Pan American for the third-lowest single-game percentage

► Missouri State became the 30th Division I program to reach the 700-win mark with its Dec. 3 win over Eastern Michigan

► Casey Garrison was named MVC Player of the Week for the second straight week and the sixth time of her career on Nov. 22

► Tia 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

► 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

► 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

► 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 Sycamores
Picked eighth in the Valley's preseason poll, Indiana State enters Sunday's game with an 8-7 overall mark and wins in two of its first four conference contests. New head coach Teri Moren relies heavily on her starting five to carry the majority of the offensive load, with four of them averaging in double figures. Pacing the Sycamore attack is junior center Shannon Thomas (12.7 ppg/7.9 rpg), who enters this weekend's action ranked among the league's top 15 individuals in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. A two-time Valley Player of the Week selection, Thomas's .513 field goal percentage was third in the MVC as well. Juniors Brittany Schoen (12.1 ppg/4.0 rpg) and Deja Mattox (10.1 ppg/3.7 rpg) have posted solid seasons so far for ISU. Schoen entered the week with the seventh-best three-point field goals per game average in the nation, while Mattox was shooting nearly 84 percent from the foul line to rank fifth in the MVC. Taylor Whitley (10.7 ppg/4.6 rpg) has come into her own this year as well, coming into Sunday's game with the third-best scoring and rebounding averages on the club. The sophomore guard leads the team with averages of 2.1 steals and 4.8 assists per game, the latter of which leads the Valley. Senior forward Kelsie Cooley (8.7 ppg/7.0 rpg) brings a solid all-around game to the ISU lineup, with the No. 2 rebound and assist totals on the team.

Indiana State has been solid from the foul line all season long, entering Sunday's action second in the conference with a .751 team shooting percentage with more makes from the stripe (274) than any other Valley club. The Sycamores have also been proficient from beyond the arc, registering an average of 6.5 three-pointers per game to rank second in the MVC.

The Coaches
Nyla Milleson (Kansas State, '85) is in her fourth season as the head coach at Missouri State with a 56-54 mark as the Lady Bears' mentor and an overall record of 241-90 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. Milleson is 4-2 all-time against the Sycamores and 2-0 vs. Teri Moren-coached teams.

Teri Moren (Purdue, '92) is in her first season leading the Sycamores and her eighth overall as a collegiate head coach. Moren came to Terre Haute last spring after serving as associate head coach at Georgia Tech, where she helped lead the Yellow Jackets to 20-win campaigns and NCAA Tournament appearances in each of her three seasons. Prior to that, she completed a seven-year stint as head coach of Division II Indianapolis, compiling a 130-73 mark, leading the Greyhounds to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and earning WBCA Region 4 Coach of the Year honors in 2003.

Series History
Missouri State enters Sunday's match-up with a commanding 44-14 lead in the series with Indiana State. Last year, the Lady Bears completed their 18th season sweep of ISU in the 28 seasons the two schools have engaged in home-and-home play. MSU has dominated the Sycamores in Springfield, taking 25 of the previous 29 meetings on their home floor.

Climbing the Charts
Junior guard Casey Garrison took her place on a pair of Missouri State career top 10 lists the week of Jan. 3-9. The Bolivar, Mo., product eclipsed Cindy Henderson's career scoring total with her 13-point effort at Bradley (Jan. 8), just two days after cracking the school's top 10 steals list.

Already No. 2 all-time at MSU in career scoring average (17.7 ppg), Garrison needs 56 points to move up to ninth on the scoring list (Lisa Davies with 1,469 points), but an astounding 1,980 points to catch all-time NCAA scoring leader Jackie Stiles in the top spot on the chart with 3,393 career points. Garrison has a much shorter distance to climb to reach the top of the steals list, needing just 158 more to equal Kari Koch's school-record career total of 340.

With 35 more assists and 136 additional rebounds, Garrison would break into the career top 10 charts in those categories as well, making her just the second Lady Bear ever to post top 10 career totals in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Jenni Lingor is currently the only player in the 42-year history of the varsity program at MSU to accomplish the feat, ranking fourth in points, sixth in assists, seventh in rebounds and eighth in steals entering Sunday's contest.

With 17 points vs. Illinois State on Tuesday, Garrison joined Lingor as the only Lady Bears to total 1,400 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.

The Defense Never Rests
The Lady Bears held four straight opponents under .300 from the field from Dec. 3 through Dec. 12, a first in the 42-year history of the program. MSU has posted two of the best defensive efforts in school history, including a .194 effort at Morgan State that ranked as the second-lowest field goal percentage ever for a Lady Bear opponent. The Lady Bears lead The Valley in scoring defense, scoring margin, field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense and blocked shots, ranking fifth in the nation in the latter category.

Opening Statement
With 13 wins it its first 17 games, Missouri State is off to its best start under fourth-year head coach Nyla Milleson. The Lady Bears' current 13-4 mark is one win better than their record at the same point last year and represents their best start to a season 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.

Homeland Defense
Missouri State's current six-game home win streak has been fueled by a relentless defense that has held the opposition to an average of just 51.3 points per game. The Lady Bears have limited their six opponents to a combined .277 (107-of-386) field goal percentage and outrebounded them by a 302 to 235 margin over the stretch.

Missouri State's defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, entering Sunday's game with the fifth-best field goal percentage defense (.322) in the country. Led by Tia Mays's 3.5 blocks per game, the Lady Bears also rank fifth nationally with a team average of 6.6 rejections per outing.

Strength In Numbers
The Lady Bears ranked 57th in this week's College Basketball News RPI Report (Jan. 10), making them the highest rated Valley team in the report. Creighton (64) and Illinois State (81) 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 (Jan. 11), which ranked the Lady Bears No. 9, making them the highest rated Valley squad in the poll, one spot ahead of Creighton and two slots ahead of Illinois State.

The Lady Bears' non-conference opponents have posted a solid .585 winning percentage as a group, and four of the 12 schools currently lead their respective conferences.

Watching No. 5
Junior guard 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 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.

All-American Rejects
Through the first 17 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 sixth nationally in blocks per game, 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.

Mays followed up that effort with a six-block night against SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 9), and climbed to No. 3 on the MSU single-season top 10 blocks list with three rejections at UNI (Jan. 6). The Des Moines native became the fastest Missouri State player to reach 50 career blocks and needs just 16 more to equal Zeilmann's Lady Bear single-season record. Mays has also been dominant on the glass for MSU, recording 14 straight games of five boards or more.

Captain Automatic
Junior Lady Bear captains Casey Garrison and Jasmine Malone have combined to hit 57 of their last 59 free throw attempts, dating back to MSU's second game of the season on Nov. 17. Malone saw her streak of 13 straight makes at the line come to an end Tuesday vs. Illinois State, while Garrison went 2-of-2 vs. the Redbirds to stretch her streak to a career-high 27 straight conversions. She needs to hit four more throws in succession to match Lisa Davies's school record of 31 consecutive free throws made, which spanned Dec. 21, 1997 to Jan. 23, 1998.

High-Octane 'O'
The Lady Bears recorded three straight victories of 20 points or more for the first time in seven years, Dec. 21-Jan. 2. MSU outscored Morgan State, Southern Illinois and Evansville by an average of 26.7 points, with its 82-50 MVC season-opening win over SIU representing the Lady Bears' largest margin of victory under Nyla Milleson. The last time the Lady Bears turned in three consecutive wins by margins greater than 20 points was January 2004, when they knocked off Oral Roberts, SEMO and Saint Louis by an average of 40 points.

Home Cooking
The Lady Bears wrapped up their longest regular-season home stand in 32 years with three straight wins and a 4-1 mark overall from Nov. 27-Dec. 9. 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).

Missouri State's current six-game home win streak matches the club's longest under head coach Nyla Milleson. The Lady Bears also won six in-a-row last year from Feb. 5 through March 21. Additionally, MSU's seven-game MVC home win streak represents its longest ever at JQH Arena and the team's best overall since a 21-game streak at Hammons Student Center stretching from Feb. 15, 2003 to March 3, 2005.

Easy As 1-2-3
As a team, the Lady Bears lead the MVC in scoring defense (59.6 ppg), scoring margin (+9.9), field goal percentage defense (.322), three-point field goal percentage defense (.266), blocked shots (6.6 bpg), rebounding margin (+5.9), total rebounding (46.5 rpg), offensive rebounding (15.3 rpg) and defensive rebounding (31.2 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 14 Lady Bear opponents by a combined 259-177 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.

Missouri State All-Time
Missouri State is in its 42nd season of women's collegiate basketball and has an all-time record of 709-490 (.591). MSU began formal competition in 1969 and, with its 22-11 mark last year, secured its 27th winning season. The Lady Bears have made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by Final Four trips in 1992 and 2001 to go along with a Sweet 16 appearance in 1993.

The Lady Bears are in their 29th NCAA Division I season and 19th 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 when the Gateway merged with The Valley.


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