A few months ago, Missouri senior forward Bri Kulas took on the 20,000-point challenge.
It was issued to the team, but only a handful of players participated. The challenge was simple: Push yourself to practice enough to score 20,000 shots over the summer.
Kulas succeeded, and the result was evident in Tuesday’s annual Black and Gold Scrimmage.
“I think (my shooting) has definitely improved just by getting in the gym and working on my shot,” said Kulas, whose enhanced three-point stroke glimmered, leading to her game-high 12 points.
Despite her performance, Kulas’s Black team fell to the Gold, 29-26, in the scrimmage that lasted two 10-minute halves.
The Black team jogged out to a 15-7 lead in the first half, but the Gold went on a 9-1 tear to tie the game at the half. It was back-and-forth after that, with freshman forward Jordan Frericks dominating the paint for the Gold.
“I pride myself on defense,” said Frericks who led her high school, Quincy Notre Dame, to three consecutive state championships in Illinois. She finished the scrimmage with 8 points and 10 rebounds.
Coach Robin Pingeton was impressed by Frericks’s performance, as she listed off the 6-1 freshman’s assets after the game.
“She’s so athletic,” Pingeton said. “She moves extremely well, she’s got great athleticism, very rangey, just a long wingspan, able to rebound, gets up and down the court really well.”
Sophomore Lianna Doty, who’s expected to start the season at point guard, posted comparable statistics. Doty pulled in 5 rebounds and tallied 7 points.
But besides the play of the trio, players struggled. The game was rife with 16 combined turnovers and a plethora of errant threes, something Pingeton says will be cleaned up by the season opener against Saint Louis University on Nov. 8.
“These girls have been playing against each other since last spring, so you kind of have a good feel for tendencies,” said Pingeton, who is entering her fourth season as Missouri’s coach. “That’s why you do things like this, to get your feet wet a little bit, getting settled in and feeling a little bit more comfortable out there.”
Prior to the game, players signed autographs for fans for nearly an hour. And although their scrimmage wasn’t as smooth as their calligraphic looping Gs and rounded Os, the Pingeton said the players will improve.
“As we go through this season, no doubt there’s going to be some bumps in the road, we’re going to have some adversity,” said Pingeton, who only has four upperclassmen on her team. “But I also think we’re going to have an opportunity to take this program to the next level.”