Bri Kulas took Mizzou’s first shot – a three from the corner. It clanked off the rim.
Then, just about everything started falling for the Tigers.
A layup by freshman forward Jordan Frericks. A Kulas three-pointer. Another Frericks layup.
It was the beginning of a record game for the Tigers’ offense, one in which Mizzou topped Bradley, 126 to 55.
The Braves kept it close with Mizzou for a minute and a half. Then, the Tigers went on a 28-2 run over six and a half minutes, making the score 33 to five.
By the time Bradley reached double digit points, Mizzou had 43.
“It was fun,” Kulas said. “Just seeing all of my teammates out there, just knocking down their shots, having fun. Everybody was in it together.”
At the half, the Tigers led Bradley 65-23. It was a Mizzou record for points in a half.
Kulas, a senior forward and Mizzou’s leading scorer on the year, paced the Tigers with 26 in the first half. She finished with 27, tying her career-high. Sophomore guards Lianna Doty and Morgan Eye added 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the game. The Tigers’ starters sat most of the second half, but the scoring barrage continued.
Three Mizzou bench players scored in the double digits. Senior forward Tania Jackson had ten. Sophomore guard Morgan Stock put up 21. Stock’s sister, Maddie, scored 15.
“I think we’re a really deep bench,” Stock said. “ We can go almost all the way down (the bench). It’s good that we can come in and score, because our starters set the tone and we can come in and build from them.”
The Tigers almost outdid their record-setting first half in the second period. They posted 61 points in the second half to finish the game with 126. The final point tally was a program single-game record.
“I thought what was most impressive was their ability to sustain it,” head coach Robin Pingeton said. “To come out of the blocks strong, but to be able to sustain that for 40 minutes I think is a challenging thing to do.”
Pingeton thought it was her team’s unselfishness that led to its offensive output.
“I just thought we did a great job making that extra pass,” Pingeton said. “I really am proud of the chemistry on this team.”
While the Tigers’ offense was the story, Mizzou’s defense was the protagonist.
The Tigers forced 19 turnovers, including two Bradley charges, off of which Missouri scored 38 points. “That offense came from our defense,” Stock said.
Bradley guard Michelle Young, the Missouri Valley Conference’s leading scorer, came in averaging over 18 points a game. She scored just nine points.
Pingeton said the Tigers spent their week of practice focusing on defense.
“We actually had an opportunity to really break some things down defensively,” Pingeton said. “And kind of went old school on our team, and really got after it with some defensive stations. More than anything, (the practices were) just trying to instill a mentality, a toughness in our players. They really embrace that.”
The win puts Missouri’s record at 9-1. The team has three non-conference games remaining before the start of SEC play, the first of which is Dec. 16 against Belmont at Mizzou Arena.