Lady Bears reflect on championship, look ahead to title defense

Great memories and tremendous moments filled the 2019-2020 Lady Bears season. Missouri State won the Missouri Valley Conference with several dramatic and impressive victories both in the conference and non-conference schedules.

Then the pandemic robbed the Lady Bears of postseason play and a celebration of their accomplishments.

That was until Tuesday night when the Lady Bears finally received their Missouri Valley Conference championship rings and the chance to celebrate with their fans.

“Every once and awhile, I just put [the ring] on and look at it and just get really excited for this year,” said Missouri State Head Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton.

Despite the elation of looking back on last season, the Lady Bears know it’s time to get back to work.

“Tomorrow will be the first official day of practice, so it kind of goes hand in hand with what we are trying to do,” Coach Mox said.

It will mark day one of Missouri State’s quest for another title, which the Lady Bears were picked to win in the conference preseason poll.

MSU received 33 first-place votes in that poll.

“The target is just going to get bigger and bigger the more successful we are,” Coach Mox said. “So we have to handle that with class and pride and just stay humble and hungry. That’s what I tell them all the time.”

Missouri State will not only be the league’s top target, but also defending its crown in the upside down world of a global pandemic.

“They could cancel [the] non-conference [schedule] tomorrow, you know? So we have to control what we can control, and get ourselves ready to play,” Mox said. “If we are preparing for a game and one of our players comes down with it or we play a game and find out somebody on the other team has it and we have to quarantine for two weeks then that’s what we have to do.”

With changes sure to happen and obstacles bound to pop up, Coach Mox will lean on her team’s championship pedigree and 10 returning players.

“They understand me, they understand the new system completely, so now I’m seeing more leaders emerge. I think our maturity on the court has been through the roof and that just comes from finishing a year together,” Coach Mox said.

That experience could be the key to another Missouri Valley title.

After all, the phrase Missouri State, Missouri Valley Conference Champions has a nice ring to it.

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