Next up: St. Louis

Sunday, January 2, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:21 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Missouri women’s basketball team is looking to build a new winning streak.

The Tigers (5-5) will face Saint Louis University (1-11) today at 1:00 p.m. in Mizzou Arena.

Missouri ended a three-game losing streak Friday by defeating Miami (OH) University 58-57 on a last-second 15-foot turnaround jumper by Tiffany Brooks.

Saint Louis is still trying to stop its nine-game losing skid.

“It is a challenge to us to recognize what is going on and to make adjustments,” Saint Louis coach Jill Pizzotti said.

Coach Pizzotti said the biggest challenge is her team’s youthfulness. Saint Louis has one senior and one junior on the roster.

Tiger point guard LaToya Bond is a leader for Missouri, but her offensive presence has been missing lately. Bond had not scored in double-digits since scoring 20 points against Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 3.

Bond found her rhythm again, and showed her intensity, by diving three times to fight for a loose ball against Miami.

Missouri coach Cindy Stein said the team needs to see Bond’s hustle to help improve its own energy.

Bond finished the game with 13 points, seven boards, and five steals.

Missouri will have to keep a close watch on the Billikens standout freshman guard Mia Johnson. She could create quite a problem for Missouri’s defense.

“She’s (Johnson) a difficult player to guard because she has more than one dimension to her game,” Pizzotti said.

Scoring is the 5-foot-9 Johnson’s specialty, and she will not be afraid to shoot the ball against the Tigers.

Johnson has 233 field goal attempts this season, 123 more than any other player on the team. She is the leading scorer for Saint Louis averaging 18.5 points a game, but her field goal percentage is only 28.8.

Shooting has been a problem for Saint Louis this season. In its 62—48 loss to Central Michigan on Dec. 30, the Billikens shot a dismal 14-for-68 or 20.6 percent from the field.

Johnson was held to 10 points and shot 3-for-23 in the game.

“She (Johnson) is a young player working through how to be more productive,” Pizzotti said.

Pizzotti said that some teams have double-teamed Johnson, but Missouri will most likely use Brooks or Bond to cover her.

Brooks is aggressive offensively and defensively. In her first two games with Missouri, she is averaging 11 points and two steal.

Against Miami, Brooks led the team in scoring with 16 points and nailed the game-winning shot.

Pizzotti said that her team struggles to defend in the post because of its lack of size. The team has four players listed over six feet, the two tallest being 6-foot-2.

This could provide an opening for Missouri’s 6-foot-3 center Christelle N’ Garsanet.

N’Garsanet’s scoring output has slightly diminished over recent games, but she is still leading the Tigers in points and rebounds. She averages 13.1 points and 6.3 boards.

The Tigers attempted to get the ball inside to N’Garsanet in their victory over Miami. Coach Stein said many of the passes were thrown too low or errant, which attributed to Missouri’s 19 turnovers.

N’Garsanet finished the game with 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Billikens’ Marquita McFarland could have the task of defending N’Garsanet.

The 6-foot McFarland, a junior forward, guarding N’Garsanet is one of Missouri’s potential mismatches. McFarland is a transfer from Moberly Community College where she averaged 14 points and 11 boards, but her totals at Saint Louis are 9.9 points and 7.2 rebounds.

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