COLUMBIA — Shortly before her team's game Thursday, Missouri women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton met with her players to make sure they were focused entering their game against Southeast Missouri State.
"I just didn't feel like the last couple days of practice, even the shootaround today, really had the focus that we needed to have," Pingeton said. "We could make a lot of excuses — traveling to Cancun, a long day on Sunday, Monday you're trying to play catch-up with everything."
The players assured Pingeton they would come out rolling, and they lived up to their promise, racing out to an 18-2 lead early in the first half.
But the Tigers made only two of their next 15 shots and found themselves clinging to a 22-20 lead near the end of the first half.
"We weren't talking as much as we were in the beginning, so we knew that we needed to start on the defensive end," sophomore guard Morgan Eye said. "Once we got that going, we got a few shots to fall and built on our lead again."
Three of those shots came from Eye, who hit three 3-pointers before halftime to help extend the Tigers' lead to 10 points.
Missouri didn't let up in the second half, and the Tigers put the game away for an 80-51 victory against the Redhawks at Mizzou Arena.
The team made 13 3-point shots on the night, including five from Eye and four from Maddie Stock.
After the game, Pingeton had no reservations about her team's tendency to take long shots.
"Love it," she said without hesitation. "We get open looks. I think they're good looks. I'm all for it."
Even senior Sydney Crafton, who spends much of her time inside the 3-point arc, said she savors the team's sharp long-range shooting.
"I mean, it's great, I love it, you know?" Crafton said, rubbing her hands together. "I can penetrate, kick, and I know they're just gonna be waiting on that three line."
Crafton led the Tigers in scoring for the third time this year, setting a career high with 26 points in only 23 minutes.
The win came after consecutive losses to Green Bay and Minnesota in the Cancun Challenge. Missouri will return to the court Monday when they take on Tennessee-Martin on Monday at Mizzou Arena in a televised game.