Tough test prepares Missouri women's basketball for SEC

Monday, December 16, 2013 | 11:11 p.m. CST
Missouri women's basketball team beat out Belmont University Bruins 82-70 on Monday at Mizzou Arena.

COLUMBIA – Missouri coach Robin Pingeton turned to speak to her team in the closing moments of its 82-70 victory against Belmont on Monday evening at Mizzou Arena.

"Well, I don’t want to say it, but that was really good for us," Pingeton said.

While Missouri emerged victorious, strong shooting from Belmont early in the game proved to be a good test for the young Missouri team.

"I thought Belmont played hard, and I thought we found a way to do what we needed to do to come out ahead," Pingeton said.

Missouri shot 55.6 percent in the first half, but 14 turnovers kept Belmont in the game. The game was tied at 37 going into halftime.

With only three second-half turnovers, Missouri took control and pulled away in the last eight minutes.

"It’s really good for us ... just as a team, staying together, pushing through," Missouri point guard Lianna Doty said. "That’s such a huge part of any game, and the SEC, they’re all gonna be tough. There’s gonna be things that don’t go your way and having those tough challenges is just gonna make us better."

Doty finished with a game-high 10 assists.

"You didn’t see them get rattled out there," Pingeton said. "We do have a young team — 10 freshmen and sophomores (combined). That’s gotta be one of the younger teams out there, and just to see the poise and the confidence they play with makes you really proud as a coach."

The team kept its composure thanks to another big game from senior Bri Kulas. The forward led all scorers with 27 points for the second game in a row. The 27 points tie her career high.

"She’s a kid that’s not afraid to take tough shots," Pingeton said of Kulas. "I think when you’re a senior and you know you’re one of those go-to players and you put in the time and you feel like you deserve it, you find a way to get things done."

Missouri took advantage of Belmont’s shooting struggles in the second half. The Tigers outrebounded the Bruins 47-28. Missouri freshman Jordan Frericks posted a double-double, adding 14 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks.

Frericks and Missouri travel to Springfield on Thursday to face Missouri State. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m. The game is the first of three broadcasts on Mediacom 22 this season.

Missouri returns to Mizzou Arena on Dec. 22 to face Western Illinois in the Tigers’ last nonconference game.

Supervising editor is Erik Hall.

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