COLUMBIA — With a day away from the practice courts scheduled for Thursday, Jessra Johnson joked that her team figured it might as well use a little extra energy Wednesday night against Toledo at Mizzou Arena.
Teammate Alyssa Hollins listed another motivation for the Missouri women's basketball team.
“We were tired of losing — really tired of it. It’s the worst feeling," Hollins said.
Missouri didn't have to worry about that feeling Wednesday. It never allowed the Rockets to get closer than 17 points in the second half on its way to a 70-50 victory. Fans got a glimpse of how good the Tigers can be when they jumped out to a 30-8 lead in the first 10 minutes.
"I mean we still have things to work on, but I think we caused a lot of excitement," Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. "I’m just very pleased with this group because I think we needed a game like that. We had so many tough games that we’ve been playing really hard, it’s nice to have a game like this when everybody can contribute.”
After the game, Stein complimented her team's defensive play, saying it showed what Missouri is "capable of doing." The Tigers forced 25 turnovers and recorded 17 steals and seven blocks.
Hollins, who tied the team-high with 15 points, said it was nice to easily defeat a team Missouri should easily beat. Toledo (2-5) was picked to finish last in the Mid-American Conference's West Division.
“We’ve been playing tight to some teams that I don’t necessarily feel like we should’ve been playing tight to," Hollins, a senior, said. "So it felt good to come out and dominate somebody for once, and show that we can take over a game."
The victory gave Missouri consecutive wins for the first time this season. After a few tough losses early in the season, including a triple-overtime loss to Holy Cross last weekend, Stein said she hopes her team is learning how to win.
“I think that I saw a lot of light bulbs going on exactly how hard we have to play every minute of the game, and I think that that’s — anytime your kids get that sense of urgency, I think is really important," Stein said.
The challenge now, according to the team, is to play better for longer.
“I think that anyone has room for improvement," Johnson said. "I think we did a really good job and we started off really good, but we can be better at it just by simply sustaining it for a longer time."
Johnson finished the game with 10 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Shakara Jones had 15 points.
Missouri plays next against Bradley at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.