Starting Five

Missouri women to face long-range shooting match in Vanderbilt

Updated: 2014-01-29T01:01:58Z

By KATHLEEN GIER

The Kansas City Star

Every week this season, each player on the Missouri women’s basketball team has been putting up at least 1,000 shots. Senior Bri Kulas credits that time in the gym for the Tigers’ sharp shooting from beyond the three-point arc this season.

Missouri leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks second in the nation, averaging 9.8 made three-pointers per game. Through 20 games, the Tigers have made 195 threes, which puts them 69 shots ahead of second-place Arkansas, and they rank third in the SEC by shooting 38.6 percent from three-point range.

“I think that’s what separates us from most of the other SEC teams,” said Kulas, who played at Shawnee Mission North. “Most of the other teams like to get into the paint and dual penetrate but what makes us unique is being able to knock down those shots.”

Kulas, who ranks second in the league with 18.8 points per game, comes in seventh with 37 made three-pointers. Junior Morgan Eye paces the league with 68 and a 44.7 shooting percentage beyond the arc.

Missouri, 13-7 overall and 2-5 in the SEC, will meet its long-range shooting match at 7 p.m. Thursday when it plays host to No. 16 Vanderbilt, 16-4 and 5-2. The Commodores are tied for third in the conference with 119 three-pointers, but have an SEC-best 42.2 shooting percentage beyond the arc. The conference’s leading scorer, Christina Foggie, averages 2.8 threes for Vanderbilt as part of her 19.5 points per game.

“We have to make sure we communicate on the defensive end and guard that three-point line hard,” Eye said. “It’ll be a lot like guarding ourselves like we do in practice, so hopefully we’ll be able to bring that to the game.”

Missouri ranks seventh in the conference in three-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 28.8 percent with 119 made threes.

2. Key matchup

No. 2 Notre Dame at No. 3 Duke, 1 p.m. Sunday. The Fighting Irish are undefeated and Duke has one loss, which came at the hands of No. 1 Connecticut.

3. Big 12 watch

Oklahoma State senior guard Tiffany Bias collected her 1,400th career point and 700th assist in the Cowgirls’ victory against Kansas. She needs one more assist to break the Oklahoma State career record of 707 assists.

4. SEC watch

Alabama snapped a 23-game losing skid to Georgia with a 69-66 victory on Sunday. Senior Shafontaye Myers, junior Sharin Rivers and freshman Ashley Williams each scored 16 points.

5. Local connection

Johnson County Community College, ranked No. 1 in NJCAA Division II, will put a 46-game home winning streak on the line against No. 5 Highland Community College on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers are 21-0 and the Scotties are 21-1.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com.

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