After a back-and-forth battle in the first half, the Missouri Tigers (2-0) were able to pull away in the second half and beat Southeastern Illinois-Edwardsville 59-48 in the women's basketball team’s home opener.
Senior Bri Kulas led the team with 16 points while sophomore Morgan Stock finished with 15 points.
“In the first half we were a little passive, and in the second half we got a little more aggressive,” coach Robin Pingeton said. “I was a little disappointed in our rebounding in the first half, and I challenged our players, and I thought they did a nice job changing that.”
The Tigers were led in the first half by one of their lone seniors, Kulas. She led the way with nine points in the first half, scoring from behind the arc, in the paint and on the charity stripe to give the Tigers breathing room for most of the half.
Stock aided Kulas in the scoring; chipping in eight points in the first half, which included a pair of threes.
The Cougars brought a game plan of their own though, taking advantage of the Tigers’ small lineup, which allowed them to stay in the game by scoring in the paint. Junior forward Allyssa Decker and senior Coco Moore combined for 13 first half points by mainly driving through the lane and crashing the boards.
Lianna Doty and Maddie Stock were able to two three’s in the half’s final minutes to give the Tigers a 27-22 halftime lead.
“I think we’re not knocking down shots that we’re usually used to making,” Pingeton said of the slow start. “I think in these nonconference games when there’s not a lot of film on one another its tough to get a feel of how they’re going to play you.”
Missouri got the job done on defense forcing eight turnovers in the first half, and forcing a few shot clock violations on the Cougars who were unable to solve the Tigers defense.
The Cougars shook off their first half troubles and opened the second half scoring five straight points to cut the Tigers lead to two. Freshman Jordan Frericks, who struggled in the first half as well, shook off her problems and responded by scoring six straight points for the Tigers to keep the lead at two possessions.
“Jordan’s athleticism is helping us a lot,” Morgan Stock said. “Her inside game has been a big help early on.”
With the Tigers taking a five point lead into the under-16 minute media timeout, the Tigers were able to come out of the break and go on a 8-2 lead led by Kulas and freshman Kayla McDowell, giving the Tigers their first double-digit lead of the game.
The Tigers closed the game out with little trouble thanks to some help from Morgan Stock, who was able to score seven points in the second half despite sitting from foul trouble for most of the period.
McDowell and Frericks chipped in eight and six points, respectively, in their home debuts for the Tigers. Tierny Austin led the Cougars with 12 points, while Decker added 11.