Lianna Doty charged at Texas A&M's Adrienne Pratcher as she set her feet behind the 3-point arc. With an extended arm, Doty blocked her vision with the palm of her hand.
Doty was a step too late as Pratcher sank a 3-pointer to open the second half of the Missouri women’s basketball team’s game at Texas A&M on Sunday, extending the Aggies' lead to 51-20. The Tigers' inability to defend long-range shots ultimately lead to their 77-58 loss, dropping them to 13-8 on the season.
“Defensively, we were having a lot of breakdowns,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said during a post-game interview with the Mizzou Network. “But we continued to compete.”
Texas A&M emerged with an early 8-0 lead. The Tigers answered with a 7-0 run and narrowed the gap to 10-9 with 13 minutes left to play in the first half. Bri Kulas had scored six of Missouri’s nine points.
It was the closest margin the Tigers achieved all game.
Two minutes later, Darian Saunders drove in for a layup for the next Tigers' points to make the score 17-11. With 4:40 left in the half, Liz Smith scored Missouri’s next basket. In that six minute drought, Texas A&M had gone on a 26-0 run.
Missouri trailed 48-20 at halftime. Kulas led the team in points with seven, and Liene Priede followed with five. The team had nine turnovers and had made one of its nine 3-point attempts, with Texas A&M making nine of its 13. The Aggies opened the second half with their 10th 3-pointer of the game.
But Missouri wasn’t finished. The Tigers followed with seven unanswered points of their own, with Saunders scoring four.
"I don’t feel like she took a back seat," Pingeton said of Saunder's performance. "I thought she was extremely impressive on both sides of the court."
Missouri’s leading 3-point shooter Morgan Eye scored her first of three 3-pointers of the game with 15 minutes left to play, making the score 53-32.
Saunders scored next, followed by a layup from Kulas and Sydney Crafton. Priede sunk a 3-pointer to narrow the deficit to a 15-point game. With 10 minutes left to play, Missouri trailed 56-41.
But that was the closest Missouri came to closing the gap in the second half. The Tigers' 9-0 run came to a halt when Kyley Simmons lobbed a pass into the hands of Texas A&M’s Courtney Walker, who drove in for a layup. Texas A&M scored six more unanswered points, putting a Missouri comeback further out of reach.
Kulas led the team in points with 12. Eye followed with nine, and Priede and Saunders each scored eight. Doty had eight assists but seven turnovers, and Crafton lead the team in rebounds with seven.
“One of these things we’ve got to solve is the start of games,” director of basketball operations Michael Porter told Mizzou Network. “We’ve got to figure out a way to come out and be the aggressor.”
Texas A&M finished the game with 12 3-pointers, and Missouri finished with six, making five in the second half. Missouri outscored Texas A&M 38-29 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the 6-minute scoreless bout in the first.
“We won the second half. We continued to compete, and if we can do that for 40 minutes, I like where we’re at,” Pingeton said. “The problem is, we’ve got to put it together for 40 minutes.”
Slow starts have been a trend for Missouri during road games. The Tigers will begin a three-game home stretch with Florida on Thursday at Mizzou Arena.
“We’re still a little scarred by that last game at home,” Pingeton said of the Tigers' loss to Arkansas on Thursday. “We’re coming back with a little chip on our shoulder.”