SMS advances despite off night by Stiles
Updated: Saturday March 17, 2001 10:01 PM
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Shutting down and nearly knocking out NCAA all-time leading women's scorer Jackie Stiles wasn't enough for Toledo against Southwest Missouri State.
Not with Tara Mitchem scoring 40 points in a Stiles-like performance.
Mitchem matched the fourth-best scoring game in an NCAA women's tournament history and Southwest Missouri State overcame a rare subpar game and an injury to Stiles in beating Toledo 89-71 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.
Stiles, the all-time leading scorer in women's college basketball, had a season-low 13 points before leaving with about 10 minutes to play after being knocked woozy when ran into a pick at midcourt.
"I think she got hit in the temple coming off the screen," said Southwest Missouri coach Cheryl Burnett, whose team was in the midst of a 26-2 run when Stiles was hurt.
The senior guard, who averaged 30.7 points a game this season, lay on the floor for about 20 seconds before being helped to the bench. Team doctor Brian Mahaffey did not say whether she sustained a concussion, but said he expected Stiles to be fine.
Stiles did not attend the post-game news conference.
The victory was the seventh straight for Southwest Missouri State (26-5), advancing it to a second-round game in the West Regional on Monday night against the winner of the Rutgers-Stephen F. Austin game.
Mitchem's 40 points was the best performance since Tamika Whitmore had 40 for Memphis against Youngstown State on March 13, 1998. Lorri Bauman of Drake has the record of 50 against Maryland in 1982.
"I had the easy job because I was open most of the time," said Mitchem, senior guard who hit 13 of 20 shots from the field.
Burnett, who posted her 300th career coaching win, said that Southwest Missouri needed someone to step up with Toledo taking Stiles out of the her game.
"We kept saying: 'Find Tara, skip it across, Tara is going to be there,"' Burnett said. "She just continued to gain confidence and they never made the adjustment until late in the game."
Carly Deer, who made four 3-pointers and scored 16 of her 21 points in the second half, wasn't surprised Mitchem bettered her career best by 16 points.
"Tara has that in her every game," Deer said. "We always tell her to shoot. You can't leave her wide open. She has a great 3-point shot, too. If she had made sure her foot was behind the (three-point) line on some of those shots, she would have had 50."
Fifth-seeded Southwest Missouri, champions of the Missouri Valley Conference, hit 11 of their first 15 shots in the second half to end Toledo's school-record 16-game winning streak.
Kahli Carter had 21 points, and Melantha Herron had 20 for the Rockets (25-6), the champions of the Mid-American Conference.
Toledo had an outstanding first half, using a strong inside game with Herron and Carter and a tough box-and-one against Stiles to take a 32-31 halftime lead.
"I thought we played 20 good minutes in the first half and six good minutes in the second and everything else in between was really bad for us," Toledo coach Mark Ehlen said. "You have to give them a lot of credit because they really stuck their shots."
Stiles hit only one of four shots from the field -- a fastbreak layup -- and had only four points.
However, Southwest Missouri got in high gear after Herron scored inside with 16:35 to play to give Toledo its last lead at 42-41.
Mitchem, who came in averaging 12.6 points, hit a jumper to spark a 14-point run in which she and Stiles each scored seven points.
"I don't think I have ever scored 40 points in a game," Mitchem said. "My highest in high school was 30-something and I don't remember junior high."
After Shekinah Brazzle broke the run with two free throws for Toledo, Deer hit two 3-pointers and scored eight points in a 12-0 run that stretched the Lady Bears' lead to 67-44.
Stiles was hurt in that sequence running into a pick by Carter,
a 6-foot power forward.