The Missouri women's basketball team will have the opportunity to accomplish a feat never completed by former coach Cindy Stein in her 12 seasons. A win against No. 25 Florida State on Sunday will give the Tigers two wins against ranked opponents this season before conference play.
The first victory came in an upset over then-No. 12 Georgetown in the Paradise Jam tournament in November.
No. 25 Florida State Seminoles (11-3)
at Missouri Tigers (8-4)
WHEN: 2 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/ 100.5 FM
The feat lies in the hands of first-year coach Robin Pingeton, who has led the Tigers to an 8-4 start. She said she is pleased with the progress of her team.
“When you take a step back and look at our returning players and who we lost, and the point production, the rebounds, the minutes played, I think it’s extremely impressive and a huge credit to these young ladies where they’re at today,” Pingeton said after Missouri's win over Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday.
Missouri regularly starts players with at least one year of experience, but the team lacks depth. Four players came off the bench against Alabama-Birmingham, but they only gave the Tigers 23 combined minutes of playing time, less than any individual starter.
The team has relied on strong play from its two starting forwards, junior Christine Flores and senior Shakara Jones. Flores scored a career-high 28 points against Alabama-Birmingham in her 36 minutes of playing time. Jones played 37 minutes, scored 17 points and accumulated a team-high nine rebounds.
Senior guard RaeShara Brown has also contributed to the Tiger's early-season success. Brown scored a career-high 28 points on Wednesday.
Missouri will need all of its offensive firepower and continued strong defense if it is going to defeat Florida State. The Seminoles are coming off wins over Florida and Stetson. Christian Hunicutt scored 10 points in the Florida State's win over Missouri last year, while Courtney Ward added seven assists. Missouri currently leads the all-time series, 2-1.
Tomorrow's game will end a six-game homestand for the Tigers, who currently have a five-game winning streak. The team is two games back of its record through 12 games last year, but the out-of-conference schedule this season has included statistically better teams, with the likes of Georgetown and No. 5 Tennessee.
Missouri has two more opportunities to defeat a ranked opponent before conference play. After Florida State, the Tigers will travel to Cincinnati on Tuesday to face No. 4 Xavier. Pingeton is not looking for excuses, though.
“If you play for me, it’s a challenge,” Pingeton said. “The buy-in, the commitment, the work ethic, the effort. Is it where we want it to be? No. But, man, it’s leaps and bounds from where it was eight months ago."