When Missouri women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein called a meeting with her players earlier this week, she wanted to define every player’s role on the team.
When it came time to define senior LaToya Bond’s role, Stein couldn’t pinpoint just one thing she needed her point guard to do in order for the Tigers to be successful this season.
“I called her my all-category player,” Stein said. “In all categories she can dominate.”
Bond proved it in the Tigers’ stomping of the Northwestern Wildcats 87-64 at the Hearnes Center on Tuesday night in their home opener. The Tigers improved to 2-2.
Bond ended the game with a team-high 19 points to go along with two rebounds, three assists, one block, five steals, and zero turnovers. She was also a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
“I think she had an outstanding stat line,” Stein said. “Her playing 25 minutes and getting all the stats that she did and have no turnovers, I think that is outstanding.”
Bond set the tone for the Tigers’ defense early in the first half. After Northwestern made an uncontested shot on its first offensive possession off the opening jump ball, Bond forced a traveling violation the next time the Wildcats brought the ball down the court.
She also showed her veteran floor leadership when she immediately slapped her hands together, encouraging her teammates to step up their defensive intensity.
“I’m ready to do whatever I have to do,” Bond said.
On three consecutive possessions during the game, Bond forced a turnover, altered a shot and snatched a steal. All three lead to Tiger baskets, which started a 37-7 run by the Tigers to open up the game.
“LaToya is in great shape,” Stein said. “And that enables her to be able to play that kind of defense. She can guard inside and outside.”
Bond has been trying to improve her defense as of late because she said she has had problems with taking plays off in the past.
“Defense is one thing I’ve been working on,” Bond said. “I’m trying to be more consistent and to keep moving, and I’m working on being in the right place at the right time.”
Bond’s work on the defensive end has paid off so far this season. With her five steals in the game, she now has a total of 16 for the year in just four games.
The Tigers totaled 15 steals overall against the Wildcats. Coming into the game, MU was already leading the Big 12 Conference with 13.3 steals per game.
MU will next travel to the Pittsburgh (PA) Thanksgiving Tournament. They will face Towson in the opening round at 12 p.m. Friday and then take on the host Panther team Sunday.