By Kaysie Moore
The Missouri women’s basketball team won their second nonconference game in as many tries, taking down Chicago State by a score of 88-55 at Mizzou Arena on Monday night.
Sophomore Morgan Eye came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 16 points on a 6-for-9 shooting performance, including four 3-pointers.
The visiting Chicago State Cougars opened the game’s scoring on a 2-point jumper by Jackie Jones (who led the Cougars with 22 points), but forward Bri Kulas (14 total points) followed with Missouri’s first four points. Missouri never looked back, riding Eye’s clutch shooting from behind the arc to a 51-26 halftime lead.
Missouri backed off the gas pedal in the second half, to the displeasure of coach Robin Pingeton. The Missouri coach said she wants to make sure her youthful roster learns as much as possible before the team begins its more challenging slate of SEC conference games.
“We came out and just finished off the next 20 minutes without the mindset that we’re going to dominate,” Pingeton said. “We must learn how to maintain that focus regardless of what the score is.”
Standout freshman guard Lianna Doty scored 10 points, but also racked up three personal fouls during the first half. Pingeton said she sent Doty back out to play much of second half in order for Doty to learn how to handle the pressure of playing in foul trouble. Doty finished with the three fouls, safe from the five foul ejection mark. As a team, Missouri totaled 10 fouls against Chicago State.
Senior Sydney Crafton joked that the reason the team has been having foul issues might have something to do with playing against the “scout boys” at practice. She said that going back to playing against women is a different atmosphere.
“I like the intensity, I like the aggressiveness,” Crafton said. “I keep telling Doty to keep doing what she’s doing. She’s going to figure out what the refs call and what they don’t call.”
Doty’s assertiveness and quick passes worked in many instances but sometimes took her teammates by surprise. Pingeton said she believes that the young guard’s court vision will benefit Missouri once the players become in tune with each other’s habits.
Developing that chemistry will continue to be a work in progress, as Pingeton said it doesn’t come easy to pick which players to put on the court.
“We’ve been playing so many guards,” Pingeton said. “On any given night, you don’t know which kid’s gonna step up.”
Pingeton hopes that the team’s versatility will be a strong point for Missouri moving forward.
The Tigers have also shown an ability to shoot well beyond the 3-point line in the beginning of the season. Missouri scored 21 points through 3-point attempts on Monday, and 39 of Friday’s 67 total points during Friday’s season opener came from beyond the 3-point line.
Eye’s affinity for the long-range shot in particular could prove to be a hidden weapon for the Tigers off the bench.
“When Morgan’s hitting she’s hitting; that’s always nice to have a shooter,” Crafton said.
“It just opens stuff up more. That opens the lane for me to penetrate or kick it back to her and makes it easy.”
Chicago State coach Angela Jackson lamented her team’s inability to match Missouri’s energy, despite playing a tighter second half. The Cougars fell to 0-2 following Monday’s loss.
“I wish we could have taken a chapter out of Mizzou’s book and played with some intensity,” Jackson said. “We expected it. That defense is mainly to slow you down, and (Missouri) accomplished what they set out to do. I would have liked to see us attack more, but we had one day to prepare.”
Missouri will play another home game at Mizzou Arena this week when they host Western Illinois on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.