COLUMBIA – It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time you’ll hear this: The Missouri women’s basketball team is young. Eight of the 12 players on the active roster have two or fewer years of college basketball experience.
Two of the seasoned veterans on the team, junior guards Morgan Eye and Bree Fowler, find themselves in new roles this year. The two are the longest tenured Tigers on the team, both in their third year.
Missouri Tigers vs. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
Where: Mizzou Arena
When: 7 p.m.
Radio: KTGR 100.5 FM, 103.1 FM, 1580 AM
Twin Day: Fans who dress as twins receive two admissions for the price of one.
Both came into games off the bench last year. Now they find themselves in the starting lineup.
"Just getting to play together is so much fun because we have been together for so long," Eye said.
Before practice, Eye and Fowler shoot around on the main court at Mizzou Arena. They alternate taking shots. The thud of the basketball on the court mixes with their laughter and small talk.
Eye and Fowler live together off the court. Eye says they’ve been through it all. When asked about their relationship, the responses are the same.
"She’s my rock," Eye said. "I always tell her that."
"She’s my rock, I’m her rock," Fowler said. "We’ve always just been there for each other."
Eye and Fowler aim to get Missouri back on the winning side when the team takes on Oral Roberts on Wednesday night.
Eye scored a season-high 27 points, shooting nine-for-13 from behind the arc in Missouri’s 74-68 loss to Miami on Saturday. Fowler scored a career-high 10 points. While she doesn’t usually lead in the box score, Fowler has found other ways to make a difference this season.
"I lead more through my actions than my words ‘cause we already have three captains so there’s really no point to keep reiterating what they’re saying," Fowler said.
The loss was Missouri’s first of the season after starting 7-0 for the first time since the 1982-1983 season. Miami proved to be tough competition for Missouri, but the loss prepares the team for future games.
"They were probably the most athletic team we’ve faced and just being in the tough situation where it came down to those final possessions," Eye said. "We’re gonna see that so many times in the SEC, so it was a really good taste of what the SEC is gonna be like."
While the first conference game is less than a month away, coach Robin Pingeton knows that each game presents a learning experience for her team.
"Winning is hard," Pingeton said. "Winning on the road is really hard. It’s a mindset, it’s a discipline, it’s attention to detail and those are all areas we gotta get better at. But with a young team you expect it to be a process as you go through the season."
Youth doesn’t seem to be an issue for Missouri as freshmen Jordan Frericks and Kayla McDowell have started games. Those two, along with other players coming off the bench, have a chance to take control of any game.
"I think our depth is something that is certainly one of our strengths this year," Pingeton said. "We do have a number of different players on any given night you just never know what you’re gonna get out of them."
Missouri takes on Oral Roberts at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena.
There is a time change for this weekend’s game against Bradley. Originally scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, the game has been rescheduled to 2 p.m. Sunday at Mizzou Arena.
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.