COLUMBIA — The Missouri women's basketball team got off to a slow start Sunday against North Florida.
The Tigers' offense was dormant for the first five minutes of their season home opener at Mizzou Arena. The team turned over the ball four times in the opening minutes, forcing coach Robin Pingeton to call a timeout.
"It's the first time we faced a team like this where they were just going to pick us up for 40 minutes, and we just kept thinking we had to run our offense through Kyley (Simmons)," Pingeton said. "We don't have to run our offense through our point guard and so trying to make that adjustment took us a little bit of time."
Simmons, though, appears comfortable at the helm of the Missouri offense. In Missouri's 67-46 victory, she racked up a team-high 31 minutes and six assists, but Pingeton said she thinks Simmons has more upside than just passing the ball to Missouri shooters.
"She didn't show it yet, she can knock down shots, and I think as soon as she can do that her confidence is going to continue to grow," Pingeton said.
Missouri led North Florida 26-15 at the end of the first half despite its slow start, but Missouri's guards picked up their play in the early minutes of the second half.
Four of Missouri's first five possessions in the second half ended in 3-point shots, two from junior transfer Liene Priede and two from freshman Morgan Eye.
"We knew that the guards would be open if we were able to swing the ball," Eye said. "We just had a little bit better ball movement."
Eye finished with 12 points from beyond the arc.
Senior Christine Flores added 22 points, three rebounds and three blocks in the victory, and along with BreAnna Brock, provided a dominant presence down low.
Flores and Brock, two of four seniors on the team, said they won't be the only ones the Tigers look to for leadership this season.
"We've also learned it's not just going to be the seniors that are going to be the mouth," Brock said. "Everyone is going to work together. ... It's a role all of us are going to have to take on."
For Pingeton, that's a good sign for a team that is still learning how to play together.
"We're still trying to figure out where that leadership is coming from, and I think at different times different players have stepped up," Pingeton said. "You'd expect that with a young team, with an inexperienced team, but I really think they do a good job of holding each other accountable. It's going to be interesting to see as the season evolves where that leadership, consistent leadership, comes from."
Missouri has only one game between now and Dec. 3. The Tigers play Wright State at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.