Strong defense helps, hinders women’s team

Friday, November 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:20 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Being defensive has its pros and cons.

Missouri women’s basketball Coach Cindy Stein has preached the importance of defense, and in the past two games her team has reacted. Unfortunately, it may not be the defense Stein had in mind.

Players will have another chance to put those lessons into practice tonight when the Tigers play in a Thanksgiving tournament in New Mexico.

The Tigers (1-1) will face New Mexico (2-0) at 9 p.m. local time in University Arena at Albuquerque.

Gonzaga (1-0) and Providence (0-2) are also playing in the tournament.

Missouri is leading the Big 12 Conference in blocks with 7.5 per game. Earlier this season, Stein said blocking shots is by no means a bad thing, but also not a skill she wants the team to become dependent on. With each blocked shot, Missouri players increase the risk of committing fouls.

Tiger center Christelle N’Garsanet, a 6-foot-3 junior, is a big factor in this statistic. She is averaging four blocks per game.

The Tigers committed 12 turnovers in the victory against Northern Illinois, but threw the ball away 25 times in a 75-54 loss to Iowa.

Stein will look to 5-foot-7 junior point guard LaToya Bond to control the temp of the Tiger offense. Bond scored a career-high 25 points against Northern Illinois and is averaging 19.5 points and 5 assists.

New Mexico has some recent experience against Big 12 teams. The Lobos are coming off a 60-54 win against Oklahoma State. Coach Don Flanagan will look to senior forward Lindsy Ardnt to lead his team. In the last game, the 6-foot-1 Ardnt produced 6 points and 6 rebounds.

Last season, Ardnt averaged 10.4 points and 7 rebounds per game and was named first team All-Mountain West Conference.

Gonzaga and Providence play at 6 p.m. central time.

Experience is on the side of Gonzaga and its coach Kelly Graves. Graves is predicted to start three seniors and two juniors. Senior forward Ashley Burke, 6-foot-1, a possible starter, will bring her tough, down-low play to the court.

Burke scored 10 points, ripped down 9 boards, and had 3 steals against Utah Valley State, leading Gonzaga to its first win.

Providence coach Susan Yow’s young team is still looking for its first win. Sophomores Shauna Synder and Kristina Baugh will try to end the Friars’ losing streak. Synder, a forward, scored a career-high 14 points in the team’s loss to Holy Cross, and Baugh is averaging 11 points and 4.5 assists.

The consolation and championship games will start at 7 and 9 p.m. central time Saturday.

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