What a difference a half can make.
The Missouri women’s basketball team defeated Southern 79-43 on Wednesday at Hearnes Center.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead, outscoring Southern 18-3 in the first 10 minutes. But sloppy play allowed the Jaguars to outscore MU 17-16 in the last 10 minutes of the first half.
MU coach Cindy Stein said despite Missouri’s early problems she was pleased with how her team responded in the second half.
“I would tell you it was a tale of two halves,” Stein said. “We weren’t very pleased with how we played the first half, but I am very proud of how we played the second half.”
The Tigers held Southern to only 7-of-27 field goals in the first half, but made only 13-of-36 field goals.
Southern’s Sheré Cunningham banked a 3-pointer off the backboard to start the comeback for the Jaguars (0-3) in the first half and banked in another 3-point buzzer-beater to close the half. She finished with 17 points.
After taking the early lead, Missouri (2-0) lost its intensity, Stein said.
“I didn’t draw anything up at the half, because we know what to do and we were just very complacent,” Stein said. “You have got to have five people out there getting it done, and we didn’t have five people playing well together and so the chemistry was a little off.”
Stein looked to three of Missouri’s seniors to bring the team back into balance at the start of the second half.
Forward/center Melanie Fisher, guard Tracy Lozier and forward Evan Unrau helped settle the team down. The three combined for 40 of Missouri’s points and 19 of the team’s rebounds.
Fisher, who started the second half for senior Stretch James, made two jump shots and sparked a 11-4 run.
Unrau had her first double-double of the season, leading the Tigers with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Unrau, who only had eight points in the first half, said she wasn’t impressed with her play.
“I am a little embarrassed,” Unrau said. “I think I missed about 15 layups. As a team, I think it’s promising what we did in the second half.”
Unrau said the team cannot afford to play like they did Wednesday against a Big 12 Conference opponent.
“We can’t play like this against teams in the Big 12 because if you do you are going to get beat,” Unrau said. “Sometimes the light just has to come on, you have to realize you have to get it done, and we weren’t doing it in the first half.
Stein said she liked the composure Unrau showed.
“(Unrau) was getting bumped, doubled teamed, slapped and undercut,” Stein said. “She just held her composure and kept battling away and that is the competitor in her.
“Even though her shot was off, she kept battling and it didn’t bring her down. That and is the maturity in Evan that I like to see.”
The Tigers gave up six points on 10 turnovers during the first half, but improved during the second half, giving up four points on three turnovers.
Sophomore guard LaToya Bond also scored in the double digits, finishing with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three personal fouls.
“I think LaToya is looking better and better,” Stein said. “The one element of her game I am trying to eliminate is the silly foul. Sometimes she just has a hand on them and it’s going to be an automatic foul. We have to eliminate that so we can keep her out there.”