COLUMBIA — Every time Missouri women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton talks about what her team needs to improve on, the first thing she mentions is turnovers.
"Our Achilles heel continues to be our turnovers, and how many points teams are scoring on our turnovers," Pingeton said. "It's just an area we've got to continue to stress to our players. We've got to continue to break down film, and we've got to get better at it."
Missouri turned over the ball 18 times in its 72-63 loss to Kansas on Sunday in front of 2,553 fans at Mizzou Arena. Four Missouri players had three turnovers, including seniors Christine Flores and BreAnna Brock, two of the most sure-handed players on Missouri's roster.
If the Tigers hope to have success in the tough Big 12 Conference, they have to minimize their turnovers and make better passes.
"I think in this league, knowing how tough it is for us to get some wins, a lot of things got to go right for us," Pingeton said. "One of those things is our ability to take care of the ball and give ourselves a chance in the offensive end."
Brock scored 26 points for the Tigers and at times was their only source of offense. Brock continually beat the Kansas defense down low in an attempt to jump-start Missouri with the Tigers trailing in the second half, but careless passes out of bounds, turnovers and quick scoring from the Jayhawks didn't allow the Tigers to mount a comeback.
One play midway through the second half was reflective of how Missouri played the entire game. Freshman point guard Kyley Simmons turned over the ball on a pass in the offensive end, stole it back from a Kansas player at midcourt and passed to Sydney Crafton at the top of the key. Crafton lobbed the ball to Brock down low, who dribbled twice before making a layup that put the Tigers within 10 points, but again Missouri fell short of a comeback.
Brock's breakout game was also because Kansas' two big forwards, Aishah Sutherland and Carolyn Davis, seemed more concerned with covering Christine Flores.
Flores, perhaps Missouri's best overall player for her ability to score down low, didn't make any excuses about the stifling defense that held her to just six points.
"They're a good defensive team," Flores said. "They played hard on all of us. On my half, I just need to work harder to get open. Getting big inside is what I need to work on, banging around. I'm not big on that, but I need to get better at it."
Missouri held a seven-point lead with about four minutes remaining in the first half, but Kansas tied it 31-31 with under a minute to play. On Missouri's ensuing possession, Brock traveled to turn over the ball with 36 seconds left. Kansas made a jump shot off the turnover with time expiring on the shot clock and with only two seconds left in the half that gave them a two-point lead.
Sydney Crafton was effective driving to the basket and finished with nine points. It's a trend she and Pingeton hope to see more of in coming games because it can relieve pressure on both Missouri's shooters and forwards.
If I'm not producing then they're just going to double (Flores and Brock), so therefore I need to do something to distract that," Crafton said. "So when I do drive, either I'll have the lane, or if not, I can kick it out to the big men, or they can kick it out to a shooter."