The women’s basketball team was unable to overcome 13 3-pointers by host Missouri and fell 67-51 in their season opener Friday night.
Courtney Webb’s 17 points and Loreal Jones’ 12 points and eight rebounds led the Billikens. Jacy Bradley also contributed with nine points, five rebounds and four assists. The Billikens out-rebounded the Tigers 37-30, including a 13-9 edge in offensive rebounds, but Missouri’s Bri Kulas led all scorers with 18 points, including 4 3-pointers.
Down by just three at half time, the Billikens were able to keep pace with the Tigers early in the second half, even closing the gap to a single point, 32-31, with close to 10 minutes left. In the next few possessions, the Billikens had chances to take the lead but with 7:01 left, the Tigers went on a 15-1 run to effectively put the game away.
Even though they didn’t get the victory, the Billikens were able to take away some positives from the loss.
“I thought we gave Missouri all they could handle,” Head Coach Lisa Stone said. “I’m really excited about what’s to come for our team. I’m proud of their efforts, and I’m excited that they’re trying to play team basketball. We’re going to play and compete in every single game. They’re disappointed [when] in the locker room, and that’s a good sign.”
With the opening game behind them, the Billikens play three more road games against Missouri- Kansas City, Oklahoma and Nebraska-Omaha before finally playing in front of the home fans on Saturday, Nov. 24 against Western Illinois and again on Nov. 29 against Illinois State.
The Billikens open Atlantic 10 play on Jan. 12 against conference newcomer Virginia Commonwealth University. The Billikens end the season on March 3 at George Washington before opening A-10 tournament play from March 8-10.
Although the team may be a work in progress, there is reason for optimism, especially after the strong opening showing against Missouri. First-year coach Stone is excited about the rebuilding process, as she will attempt to create a reputable Billiken squad that can compete night-in and night-out.
“We’re going to play and compete in every single game,” Stone said. The team has multiple double-headers with the men’s team at home this year and hopes to win over fans and students alike with their style and demeanor.
The Billikens will head to Kansas City this Thursday to face another in-state rival, University of Missouri – Kansas City. The Kangaroos finished 22-12 last season, and return three starters from the team. Then, the Billikens head to Oklahoma to take on the nationally-ranked Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday before their home opener.