The disappointment surrounding Missouri’s loss to Baylor on Wednesday overshadowed the much-anticipated return of LaToya Bond.
Bond, a 5-foot-7 sophomore who started at point guard in Missouri’s first 11 games, missed the Tigers’ past nine with a broken left foot.
When Bond checked in for the first time with 14:20 left in the first half, it was her first action since playing Jan. 4 at St. Louis. Bond practiced with the team Monday for the first time in more than a month and saw limited playing time against the Lady Bears.
Despite playing 13 minutes, Bond almost reached her season average of 12.2 points by shooting 4-of-6 and scoring nine points.
“Obviously LaToya gives us so much,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “We’ll see how she feels tomorrow, but I think LaToya played great.”
Tigers happy Bond is back
Bond, an athletic point guard who thrives on creating off her dribble, seemed to return to her early-season form when she drove the length of the floor, split two defenders and made a left-handed layup with 13:10 left in the second half.
Bond said she was glad to finally do more than provide vocal support from the bench, but said she is not completely back to the condition she was in before her injury.
“It felt great to finally be out there on the court instead of having to sit there on the bench in a warm-up,” Bond said. “I kind of feel (my conditioning) went down a little bit but I’m not out there dying or anything like that.”
Stein said Missouri will evaluate Bond’s condition today to decide if she can handle more playing time at Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
Home court disadvantage
Missouri’s 83-59 loss to Baylor was its worst loss at Hearnes Center in five years.
The most recent time Missouri lost by more than 24 points at home was Jan. 30, 1999, when Iowa State beat the Tigers 80-54.
The loss also drops the Tigers to 6-5 at Hearnes Center this season, marking the most home losses in a single season since Stein became coach in 1998. The most recent time Missouri lost five home games was the 1997-98 season, when the Tigers finished 9-5 at Hearnes Center.
Stars held in check
The stage was set for a showdown between several of the Big 12 Conference statistical leaders Wednesday, but Baylor’s and Missouri’s star players had mixed results.
Coming into the game, Missouri senior Evan Unrau was third in the conference in scoring with 17.5 points per game and led the Big 12 in rebounding with 8.9 per game.
Baylor sophomore Sophia Young entered fifth in the conference in scoring and rebounding with 16.6 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Despite their impressive season stats, both players struggled offensively. Unrau shot 2-for-13 and managed to score 14 points thanks to a strong free-throw shooting performance. Unrau was also held to six rebounds.
Young didn’t shoot particularly well either, making only 4-of-13 shots and scoring nine points. Young finished with a game-high 13 rebounds.
Baylor entered with the No. 1 offense in the Big 12 and did not disappoint Wednesday.
The Lady Bears surpassed their season average of 77.7 points and shot 43.2 percent from the field, pleasing Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson.
“I’m proud of this basketball team,” Mulkey-Robertson said. “We’re coming off a very disappointing loss to Texas Tech on our home court and we have only two seniors on our team and I just thought they were very poised tonight.
“This is a very good win and a much needed win for this program.”