For the Missouri women’s basketball team, an early-season three-game win streak has quickly turned into a three-game losing skid.
Obviously, stability is the goal.
“The key (to success) is to be more consistent,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “We haven’t had the consistency.”Today, Missouri (4-5) ends a 13-day break by facing Miami (OH) University (6-4) at 1 p.m. local time.
Missouri’s last loss, 72-55, came against the then No.2-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Dec. 18.
Missouri and Miami met for the first time last season, where the Tigers convincingly defeated the RedHawks’ 92-68 on Jan. 2.
The two coaches have also met before. Stein was an assistant at Miami during the 1987-88 season where Miami coach Maria Fantanarosa was a player.
Stein said the team is getting better at making the necessary reads against opponents, offensively and defensively.
“We’re quicker to where it’s effective,” Stein said. “We know where we’re supposed to be.”
Missouri’s defense must be ready to thwart the RedHawks’ strong perimeter play.
Miami is led by the guard play of Cindi Merrill and Amanda Jackson, who will try to stop their team’s two-game losing streak. In each of Miami’s first 10 games, either Merrill or Jackson has been the leading scorer.
Merrill, a 5-foot-8 junior, is Miami’s leading scorer, averaging 16.1 points. Jackson is a 5-foot-9 sophomore and the team’s second-leading scorer.
She averages 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds and is coming off a 27-point night in a loss to Manhattan College on Dec. 20.
The Tigers clear threat is center Christelle N’Garsanet. N’Garsanet is the leading scorer and rebounder for Missouri. She averages 13.4 points and six rebounds.
Besides N’Garsanet, the lineup — and which Tiger will step-up each game — is questionable.
Stein said using different lineups each game is not a strategy, but more of a necessity due to how the team practices and what injuries are afflicting the team.
She would prefer to have a more set lineup, but added that diverse lineups provide flexibility and more options for the squad.
Look for sophomore Tigers EeTisha Riddle and Tiffany Brooks to make an impact for Stein in or out of the starting lineup.
“Those two (Riddle and Brooks) are more consistent than the younger kids,” Stein said. “Which, we are in dire need of.”
Brooks, a 5-foot-11 guard, played and started in her first game for the Tigers against Stanford. She was previously sitting a year out after transferring from Kansas State.
Riddle came back against Stanford too. She was out with a foot injury and had not seen game action since Nov. 27.
With non-conference play winding down for both teams, Stein said she expects this ball game to be an intense one.