Mizzou women build big lead, coast to victory behind another big game from Flores

By Darren Hellwege
Photos by Karen Mitchell

Christine Flores charges through the lane to score two of her 29 points, tying her career high.

A young team like the Missouri women’s basketball team is going to be unpredictable and the clearest example of that might be the last two games. After an incredible comeback for a victory after trailing by 15 in the second half Wednesday against Eastern Illinois, the Tigers had nearly a reversal on Saturday, racing to a 21-0 lead against North Dakota and then taking their foot off the accelerator and coasting the rest of the way. They won by a fairly comfortable margin in the 69-52 win, but neither the players nor coach Robin Pingeton were happy with their performance.

“I’m no pleased whatsoever,” Pingeton said after the game. “We just lost our edge, and that’s just not acceptable. We got complacent and we can’t do that. When you let down your guard, it’s very hard to get it back again.”

The win takes Mizzou to 7-1 on the season. North Dakota falls to 4-5.

Morgan Eye scored 16 points, including four of seven from three-point distance.

The first few minutes of the game were a flash of how good this team is capable of being. Less than five minutes into the game, Christine Flores already had nine points, hitting two three-pointers and completing a three point play. In fact, the Tigers first 27 points came in threes, with Morgan Eye already in double figures before the first half was halfway done, nailing her first four threes.

But that’s about the time the Tigers, for whatever reason, began playing as if they had the game finished off already. The Fighting Sioux outscored Missouri 15-7 to finish off the first half, and the Tigers only won the second half by two points.

“We’ve got to play as hard the whole game as we did the first few minutes,” Eye said. “We can’t play ‘scoreboard’.”

Flores remained red-hot, scoring a career-tying 29 points to enhance her average of 21.9 points a game, second in the Big 12 to Baylor All-American Britney Griner. Flores also had five blocked shots, just above her nation’s-best 4.86 a game (Griner is second in the country with 4.78.) Another senior, BreAnna Brock, added 17 points and Eye finished with 16, but balance is becoming a concern. After those three, nobody scored more than three points. Starters Bailey Gee and Kyley Simmons were scoreless.

The lack of scoring out of Simmons may be a concern. Pingeton said the true freshman has started every game this year at point guard is doing a lot of things well (especially given her youth) but her play might well be described as “unselfish to a fault.” She frequently passes up open shots or opportunities to attack the rim, choosing instead to pass.

“She has great energy and pushes the tempo for us,” Pingeton said of her rookie guard, “we need some life blown into this team and she does that, but now we need her executing. She needs to work on her decision making.” Pingeton indicated, though, that Simmons is very coachable and “hungry,” indicating that the changes needed in her game may be just a matter of time.

Pingeton also is concerned about getting scoring from more players. One potential source may be Sydney Crafton. The junior out of Jefferson City started 22 games last season, averaging 6.5 points a game. While she has not yet started a game this year, the 14 points she scored against Wright State showed her offensive potential. Pingeton said Crafton is growing, “but not enough. Yes, there’s been improvement. We really need to eventually see her back in the starting lineup.”

Another source of points for Mizzou will need to be Liene Priede. Shooting just 1-5 Priede had only two points Saturday, Priede averages more than 11 points a game and scored 18 in the opener against UT San Antonio.

The team will now get a couple of days off to focus on final exams. Pingeton proudly told the media she expects a strong GPA for her team. Once the tests are done the team will get some time to focus more fully on basketball, hoping to gain more consistency and to get some other scorers contributing. The Tigers’ next game is Monday, Dec. 19 against Evansville at Mizzou Arena.


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