COLUMBIA — BreAnna Brock admits that a lack of confidence has been a problem for her in the past. It wasn’t a problem Saturday.
The junior forward had a career-high 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in the Missouri women’s basketball team’s 72-48 win over Missouri-Kansas City at Mizzou Arena.
Brock didn’t have time to think about her confidence level. Just before the game, she was told she would start in place of junior forward Christine Flores.
Head coach Robin Pingeton would only say the decision resulted from a “team discipline issue.”
Brock, who had just seven points in 35 minutes of playing time before Saturday, made her first start of the year.
“I was a little bit nervous, but I also just let it out, too,” Brock said. “I took that deep breath as Rae (RaeShara Brown) told me what to do at the beginning of the game.”
Brock wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity. She scored layups on the first two Missouri possessions to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
The quick start was just what Brock needed.
“It had my confidence level up, but it also just let the nerves out for me, too,” Brock said. “I kept thinking in my head, 'I have to do this. I have to do this for my team.'”
Brock went scoreless for the rest of the half. Just after the first media timeout of the second half, she received the ball on the left block with her back to the basket. She took one dribble to her left, then came back with a big drop step to her right. She missed the layup but fought to get her own rebound and laid it in.
Her toughness in the paint all game was what led to her success.
“Their posts weren’t as tall as ours were,” Brock said. “So I just used my size to my advantage and got big in there.”
Senior guard Brown led the Tigers with 18 points and eight rebounds. She was excited about Brock’s performance but not surprised.
“The moves she was making today and the rebounds she was making today I expect out of her,” Brown said. “Bre’s the most athletic person on our team hands down. We tell her that every day. She can jump out the gym. The girl can grab the rim.”
Although Flores ended up playing 22 minutes and scoring 10 points, Brock’s play made Pingeton play her a season-high 17 minutes.
“It was really, really neat to see the way she responded,” Pingeton said. “It’s one of those performances that gives you goose bumps, brings tears to your eyes. To see her take the court and have that confidence and that toughness and to be able to excel was really neat.”
The Tigers haven’t shown much depth this season, and Pingeton continues to try to find productive players off the bench. She hopes Brock can continue to play like she did on Saturday.
“She can be a huge piece of the puzzle for us as we go through this journey,” Pingeton said. “She’s so athletic. We’re going to need her.”
Brock wasn’t the only player who saw increased minutes Saturday. The Tigers grabbed an early lead and built on it throughout the game, allowing Pingeton to use her bench more than usual.
Brown knows how important it is for the young bench players to get experience.
“The key to winning big games and tough games is going to be our depth,” Brown said. “Today was a good day for them to get in and get their feet wet.”
Sophomore point guard Trenee Thornton played 15 minutes and scored three points.
“We’ve gotta have a backup point guard. Rae can’t continue to play 40 minutes a game. (Thornton) needs to get her feet wet," Pingeton said. "She played 15 minutes all last year. This is like her freshman year all over again.”
Kim Nezianya led UMKC with 13 points, but the Kangaroos shot just 28 percent from the field. Missouri shot 48 percent.
“It’s fun to see them actually having some fun out there on the court today,” Pingeton said. “I saw some smiles and high fives.”