COLUMBIA — Missouri sophomore Raeshara Brown scored an uncontested layup off a crisp pass from redshirt freshman Bekah Mills to put her team up 2-0 against Bradley on Tuesday night.
Bradley would tie the game a minute later but that was as close as the game would get. For the second-straight game the Tigers defeated an opponent convincingly and without ever trailing.
Missouri coach Cindy Stein said she thought Bradley frequently used a lineup that included five guards. But despite that abundance of ballhandlers the Tigers were able to gather 18 steals and force 31 turnovers.
“Our kids just are very active. When we’re active and we’re moving as a group we get a lot of deflections,” Stein said. “We recruit the long arms and we just kind of do our thing.” The Tigers were led by Mills who scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds. She also made all three of her three-point attempts and got to the free throw line 10 times, converting seven of them. Her 16 points were a career high and the first time she has scored in double-figures. Mills suffered a season-ending knee injury during the preseason last year and said she’s still working herself back into playing shape. “Everyday it’s just getting used to being out there again and just getting comfortable,” Mills said.
Stein said she was impressed with Mills’ performance but didn’t want to discount junior point guard Toy Richbow’s role on the team. “Bekah did a great job for us and she’s very, very steady and that’s what we like at point,” Stein said. “But I would tell you that Toy Richbow makes Bekah better and Bekah makes Toy Richbow better. I really like our point guards. I think both of them are very very good and I think that they both do so much for us and the compliment each other so well.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 21-8 lead with 13:34 left in the first half. But Missouri scored only two points over the next eight minutes and Bradley used that drought to pull within two points 25-23. But the Tigers outscored Bradley 14-2 the rest of the half and carried a 39-25 lead into halftime after junior forward Marissa Scott scored a layup as time expired after grabbing an offensive rebound after a missed jumpshot by sophomore forward Shakara Jones. Scott was one of three reserves who played at least 15 minutes. Scott, Richbow and sophomore guard Jasmyn Otote formed a much smaller playing rotation than Stein has typically utilized this season. While that might seem like Stein is beginning to establish a more consistent playing rotation, she said the decision was based more on the way her team matched up with Bradley than anything else. She added that she would like to get freshmen Christine Flores and Kendra Frazier more playing time. “Their (Bradley’s) five players can all put the ball down and take it to the hole and they’re (Flores and Frazier) are just learning what arm to put up,” Stein said. “They’ll get there but it was probably a little bit more of a match-up situation tonight."
Missouri’s next game is against Tennessee-Martin on Sunday at 2 pm at Mizzou Arena.