A couple of the Missouri women's basketball team's best players had a subpar game Tuesday night against Bradley.
And yet the team's lead grew and grew until the game ended with Missouri holding it's biggest lead of the night. It was Tigers 83, Braves 54.
This is a good sign for the team, which won three games in a row for the first time this season, something the team never did a year ago.
“I think that with just Alyssa (Hollins) and Jessra (Johnson) and Shak (Jones) scoring that makes us too easy to guard," said sophomore guard RaeShara Brown. "So I think that a lot of people are realizing that we took the first couple of losses pretty hard, and I think that’s pushed us a littler farther to go out and get everybody to increase their game."
Hollins, Johnson and Jones have been responsible almost two-thirds of the team's scoring so far this season.
Entering Tuesday night, Hollins had averaged more minutes per game than any other woman in Big 12 basketball this season. The senior entered the game averaging 38.1 minutes of playing time, but played just seven minutes in the second half and 24 minutes because of foul trouble.
“We are emphasizing the need for other people to step up and score," said coach Cindy Stein, "but obviously when you have someone like Alyssa step out, the kids are embracing that that’s a challenge that we’ve got to make sure that we’re obviously having an offensive output with her on the bench.”
When Hollins left the game after being charged with her third foul the Tigers' lead grew from 15 to 17, and when she had to leave again after picking up her fourth personal with 8:31 remaining the lead went from 16 points to 29 at the buzzer.
"I’m really proud of the team," said Hollins. "Everybody’s stepping up to the challenge, and I didn’t really feel a drop off when I came out. It was fun to watch. I enjoy cheering for my teammates, especially when they are playing that well."
For the second consecutive game, Missouri jumped out to an early lead, despite the fact that Jones failed to score in the first half. The junior finished the games with nine points.
“I thought they finally they woke Shak up," said Stein. "They knocked her in the head and all of the sudden she woke up and she was ready to roll.”
The important thing, for at least this one game, was that Jones and Hollins didn't need to carry the team.
“Everyone, I think, is just becoming more comfortable with being out there and knowing what they can do," said freshman Bekah Mills "and everyone is just having more confidence and what our other teammates can do."