Missouri women's basketball focuses on defense to fuel high-powered offense

Saturday, December 14, 2013 | 9:53 p.m. CST

 COLUMBIA —Missouri's record-breaking offensive performance in their 126-55 win over Bradley last Sunday may seem hard to ignore. The Tigers scored the most points for a game and most points in a half in program history and tied the school's record for most 3-pointers made with 18. 

On Wednesday, when Missouri coach Robin Pingeton addressed her team at their first practice after the game, she had one simple message and it had nothing to do with offense. 

"We played some pretty dang good defense against Bradley, but from here it only gets better," Pingeton said.

Pretty good might be an understatement. The Tigers held Bradley to just 55 points while forcing 19 turnovers, including 11 steals, and limited the Braves to a 29.3 shooting percentage. They also outrebounded their opponent 47-25.

Moving forward, the Tigers hope to use last Sunday's performance to fuel future success. 

"I think it gives a bit of a confidence boost because we know we can play defense," sophomore guard Morgan Stock said, after the game. "We know that we have the capability to be even better at it."

Throughout the season, Pingeton has continuously stressed the importance of defense to her young team. After scoring 54 points off of turnovers in their last game, the Tigers received their coach's message.

"I feel like offense is really dictated by your defense," redshirt freshman Lindsey Cunningham said.

Cunningham also commented that the team must continue to focus on scouting reports and game plan execution if they hope to build on last Sunday's success. 

"It felt good to have a game that we did everything we needed to do," Cunningham said. "It shows that when we stay focused and set our mind to it we can do big things like score 126 points." 

Missouri had a light week of practices while the student-athletes focused on final exams. Pingeton hopes the eight-day gap between games will benefit the team and help them prepare for Monday's competition.

"It's a good little break for them," Pingeton said. "These days are important to be sensitive to where they are at physically and mentally. It's such a long season so anytime we have an opportunity to catch a break here and there it's important that we take advantage of it."

Missouri will host Belmont (3-7) 7 p.m. Monday at Mizzou Arena.

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