Southwest Missouri State Lady Bears
| MESSAGE BOARD
RECORD: 28 - 3
REGION: East SEED: 12
COACH: Katie Abrahamson-Henderson CONFERENCE: MVC
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
|PLAYER TO WATCH|
Is it just us or is Kari Koch a mini-Jackie Stiles in the making? Let's see, Stiles was a SMS sharp-shooting legend, equally deadly from 12 feet, behind the 3-point line or the free-throw line. Well, Koch averages 18 points a game, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field, 43 percent from behind the arc and an almost-automatic 89 percent from the line. And while Stiles won three MVC Player of the Year awards, remember Koch won her first this season as a sophomore. Of course, there is that pesky thing about leading SMS to the Final Four like Stiles did, but it sure looks like Koch is on the right track.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
For the first time since the 1998-99 season, the Southwest Missouri State Lady Bears are the sole regular-season champions of the Missouri Valley Conference. And in Katie Abrahamson-Henderson's second season as the program's coach, she has already taken the Lady Bears to two consecutive NCAA Tournament berths.
Besides a balanced game at both ends of the floor, SMS has a particularly potent offensive attack that includes players such as sophomore Kari Koch. After earning Freshman of the Year accolades a season ago, Koch picked up right where she left off, contributing 18 points and a supreme 45 percent accuracy from the 3-point line.
Remarkably, seven different SMS players average more than 40 percent from the arc, while the team boasts a 43 percent accuracy from downtown on the season. There is no denying that this is the best 3-point shooting team in the entire nation.
Taking care of the boards is junior guard Jenni Lingor and senior forward Meg Tierney -- both players also chip in 12 points each game. Tierney chips in five boards, while Lingor accounts for six boards each time out with a demeanor that gives SMS substance and versatility.