Bri Kulas flies under the radar for Missouri women's basketball

Saturday, December 8, 2012 | 9:29 p.m. CST; updated 10:10 p.m. CST, Saturday, December 8, 2012
Missouri forward Bri Kulas attempts a layup against Arkansas-Pine Bluff guard Wright Cassidy during the first half of the game Saturday at Mizzou Arena. Missouri beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 97-59.

COLUMBIA — It was as if she appeared out of thin air.

When Liz Smith's layup attempt died at the bottom of the backboard, the ball seemed destined to fall into the hands of one of the two Arkansas-Pine Bluff defenders who had been stationed under the basket.

All of a sudden, Bri Kulas swooped in and attempted a shot of her own, drawing a foul on the way up.

A missed opportunity for the Missouri women's basketball team turned into two shots at the free throw line. 

On Saturday, Kulas contributed 18 points and five rebounds to Missouri's 97-59 blowout of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Kulas, a junior in her first year with Missouri, entered Saturday's game averaging more than 12 points and a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per game.

Yet her consistent play has largely been under the radar.

Her ball handling isn't as flashy as Lianna Doty's. Her three-pointers aren't as stunning as Morgan Eye's NBA-range shots. Her layups aren't as eye-catching as Sydney Crafton's explosive cuts.  

Her double-double Monday night against Tennessee-Martin was eclipsed by Eye breaking the school record for three-pointers.

Her 17 points on Wednesday against Missouri State weren't as noticeable as Smith's career game. 

But Kulas has been a versatile contributor to Missouri's 8-2 start.

She's reluctant to take too much credit.

"I think it goes in part to my teammates, too," she said, then paused.

"Just finish. I think that's all I'm doing."

Never offering more than a silent fist pump after a made shot, Kulas has been able to contribute both as a post player and from behind the three-point line. 

Coach Robin Pingeton said Missouri had been tracking Kulas since they found out she was leaving Kansas State after her freshman year.

Missouri signed her out of Johnson County Community College, and Pingeton said Kulas's experience at the Division I level has been an asset to the young Tigers team.

"She's played at a very high level, not your typical junior college transfer, " Pingeton said. "She understands what we're trying to build here."

So when Doty stole the ball at mid-court on Saturday night, she knew who she could count on to finish the play.

"She's a no-drama person," Pingeton said. "There's absolutely no drama with Bri Kulas. That's what you need to have."

Doty's pass connected with Kulas, who streaked across the court for the easy layup.

No drama necessary. 

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