The Missouri women’s basketball team opened its regular season with a 74-59 win over Saint Louis University on Friday at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.
Freshman forward Kayla McDowell led Missouri with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Morgan Eye finished with 12 points and 3 rebounds.
Missouri led SLU for most of the first half, with its largest lead reaching 10 with six minutes left. With just under two minutes left in the half, SLU tied the game but Eye hit her first 3-pointer of the season on Missouri’s next possession to gain a two-point lead going into halftime.
McDowell and fellow freshman Jordan Frericks both started in their first collegiate games. Senior Bri Kulas did not start for the first time in her Missouri career. Kulas finished with six points as she fouled out with less than nine minutes left in the game.
When Kulas left the game, Frericks took her spot on the floor, but she also fouled out (with less than 5:30 to play). The freshman finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds.
While McDowell and Frericks struggled at times to finish open shots, the two freshmen combined to go 12-13 from the free-throw line, contributing to the team’s 21-23 free throw shooting success.
Senior Tania Jackson scored on her first two possessions in her return to game action after missing the last exhibition game with a concussion. The three newcomers scored 34 of Missouri's 74 points.
The Tigers started the second half on a 7-0 run. The Billikens scored 20 points in six minutes to pull within one after Frericks fouled out, but didn’t score again as the Tigers cruised to end the game on a 14-0 run.
"I felt like there was a segment in that second half where things were starting to click for us," coach Robin Pingeton said, on the KTGR postgame radio show. "We just didn’t sustain it for long periods."
While Pingeton was pleased the Tigers met their goal of giving up less than 16 turnovers (they had 13), she stressed that defense and rebounding will be focused on in Saturday’s practice.
It is the second year in a row that Missouri opened the season with a victory over SLU. The Tigers have yet to lose to its in-state competition, beating the Billikens in all 19 games played between the two schools.
Missouri's next game is the home opener against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mizzou Arena.
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.