The Missouri Tigers made coach Cindy Stein’s 200th career win look easy.
In fact, by the end of Mizzou’s first home game of the season, an 89-60 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday, Stein was more concerned with prepping her players for upcoming games than focusing on herself.
“It’s nice to be the 200th, but the focus has to be on these kids, because they’re the reason why we do this,” Stein said. “This is a really unique group of young ladies, and I’m just really proud to coach them.”
Fourteen Missouri women played, and 13 scored in the Tuesday win. EeTisha Riddle scored the first six Missouri points.
“I just wanted to make my presence known early,” Riddle said “And the shots were there, so I took them. We needed them at the beginning, and I was hitting. I’m just glad I got us all off to a good start.”
Sophomore Alyssa Hollins made her first career start with a career high 21 points, five 3-pointers and three steals.
“I’m just happy we got the win,” she said. “I feel like my teammates are starting to be confident in me, and I just hope we continue to work together. I like to put the ball in the basket. If it’s there, it’s there. If it’s not, I’ll do something else.”
Stein said she’s impressed with how Hollins has already shown success as a sophomore leader.
“The biggest difference in Alyssa is her defense,” Stein said. “We’ve always known she can score ... she’s being a lot more consistent offensively. She’s knocking down those shots and being confident.”
Stein also said she was impressed with the team’s ability to score from several positions and with its defense. The Tigers scored 27 points off turnovers. The Tigers’ deep bench was also evident, outscoring the Islanders’ bench 31-17 with every reserve player but Crystal Howard coming off the bench to contribute.
“The fact that you can play everybody is huge for confidence wise,” Stein said. “Sometimes you don’t have the ability to see what everybody can do in a game situation. It gives everyone an opportunity to step up and show their skills. There really isn’t someone on our squad that I don’t feel isn’t going to help us in some situation. The key for us is to make sure they’re all ready for those opportunities.”
With seven senior leaders, the older players are still trying to push the younger players and better explain Stein’s instructions in practice and in games. And when the scoring gap isn’t wide enough to let everyone come on the court, Stein will still look to her three main starting seniors, Riddle, Tiffany Brooks and Carlynn Savant, to bring back consistency and chemistry.
“Those three are steadies for us,” Stein said. “I think they do their part of making sure everyone is kinda involved, but they also know we can rely on them to take the game over when we need to. Ususally when someone is creeping in, it’s one of those three that gets us going.”
Missouri’s next game is Friday against Arkansas State at Mizzou Arena.