COLUMBIA — Last weekend, the Missouri women's basketball team lost a heartbreaking triple-overtime game to Holy Cross at the Mildred and Roger L. White Invitational in Evanston, Ill. The next day, the Tigers needed a second-half rally to overcome an 11-point deficit to Northwestern, a team that won only five games last season and finished last in the Big Ten.
But after defeating Toledo 70-50 on Wednesday night, players and coaches agreed that the team gained a lot of confidence during its trip to Illinois.
"The triple-overtime was tough, because we did so many great things," Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. "And then we just get to crunch time, and whether it was someone not wanting to take a shot or not sure if they should take a shot, we played afraid to lose in that game. And then we go to the Northwestern game, and we finally figured out that we need to attack and how to win. And that was a big turning point I think for us."
Stein said the loss to Holy Cross contributed to her team's hot start against Toledo. The Tigers started the game on a 16-2 run.
"It was huge for us to get off to a quick start, just in the fact that we're playing at home, and we haven't been at home for awhile," Stein said. "Just taking all the frustration out from this weekend of not coming back 2-0."
BENCH CONTRIBUTIONS: Stein said she told her team before Wednesday night's game that she wanted to get at least 20 points from her bench. The Tigers didn't quite reach that mark but got close by scoring 18. Six different reserves scored with freshman guard Bailey Gee leading the way with six points.
"Bailey had a great game today," sophomore forward Shakara Jones said. "Coach Stein said something about when you sub in, the energy level can't drop, and I feel like they (the bench) really took that to heart. And they're feeling like they belong out there, and they can play with these girls. So they're getting confident, and when you get confident you start doing amazing things out there."
JOHNSON RE-INJURES ANKLE: Junior forward Jessra Johnson had go to the locker room early in the second half after she rolled her ankle. She turned the same ankle in the season-opener against South Dakota State.
Johnson reentered the game two minutes later and finished with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
LARGE VICTORY: The Tigers 20-point win was their largest margin of victory in almost two years. The Tigers defeated Arkansas Pine-Bluff 94-52 on Dec. 29, 2006.