Loss doesn't deter Missouri women's basketball team

Thursday, January 3, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Georgia's Jasmine James, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, is averaging 11.8 points per game entering the Bulldogs' game against Missouri on Thursday.

COLUMBIA — The Missouri women's basketball team remains optimistic heading into its first Southeastern Conference game Thursday at Georgia despite concluding its nonconference slate on a bitter note.

“I don’t think the expectations are high,” said guard Morgan Eye in an interview with the Mizzou Network. “We have high expectations of ourselves, though, and I think we can really make some noise in the SEC.”

After a seven-game winning streak, Missouri lost its final nonconference game 72-69 on Saturday at Memphis. At one point in the first half the Tigers trailed 26-11, but they rallied back only to fall just short when Memphis’s Nicole Dickson scored the winning basket in the final seconds of the game.

“I think Memphis was a great wake up call to us. Now we have a chance to start the SEC,” coach Robin Pingeton told the Mizzou Network. “I think they understand that it’s a whole new level in regards to abilities and talents.”

In the past three years combined, Missouri has won just nine conference games in the Big 12. Its upcoming SEC opponents won’t be any easier.

Three of the Tigers' first four SEC games are against the league's top teams. After opening league play at No. 10 Georgia (12-1), they play No. 12 Tennessee on Jan. 10 and host No. 6 Kentucky on Jan. 13.

But Pingeton said there is more depth in her team than there has been in her past three seasons at Missouri.

The Tigers are still leading the nation in 3-pointers, and Eye is ranked first in the SEC for averaging 3.57  3-pointers per game. 

Missouri has a perfect home record this season, earning some difficult wins against teams such as Western Illinois, Tennessee-Martin and Missouri State. The Tigers hung with their toughest opponent so far, Green Bay, and they led their second toughest, Minnesota, for most of the game before losing by five points.

“I think there has been so much growth and so many positive things that we can take from these first couple months,” Pingeton said. “But we certainly have a lot of work ahead of us.”

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