Missouri women's basketball holds off Florida at home

Thursday, January 31, 2013 | 9:02 p.m. CST; updated 11:36 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 31, 2013
The Missouri women's basketball team defeated Florida 69-64 on Thursday evening at Mizzou Arena.

COLUMBIA — The ball was bounced inbounds by the freshman, around the outstretched legs of a defender trying to block her passing lanes by doing jumping jacks.

The assist came off the fingertips of the sophomore, a seasoned point guard who saw an opportunity open up under the net.

But it was the senior who found the backdoor, and the basket, and put Missouri on top for good.

Senior guard Sydney Crafton's layup with just more than a minute remaining in the game broke a 64-64 tie in the Missouri women's basketball team's game Thursday night against Florida.

"We were either looking for the three from Mo (Morgan Eye), or if not, they were switching, so we were going to go backdoor," said freshman guard Lianna Doty, who made the inbounds pass to sophomore guard Kyley Simmons before Crafton's layup.

Moments later, after Doty stripped the ball from Florida's Jennifer George, it was Crafton who made a jump shot with the shot clock ticking down to put away the Gators 69-64.

After making the winning free throw in Missouri's road victory against Ole Miss on Jan. 20, Crafton came through in crunch time again for the Tigers.

"I really feel like she's starting to take more ownership," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said of Crafton. "Late in the game, she wanted the ball in her hands. She was excited about that."

Crafton's late-game shots capped off a back-and-forth game in which Missouri led by as many as 12 points and trailed by as many as seven.

Florida and Missouri entered the game with identical records, and finished the game with the same number of rebounds and similar statistics in a number of other categories.

With the win, the Tigers improved to 14-8 overall and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference play. Missouri now has more conference wins than it did all of last season, and has 14 total wins for the first time since the 2006-07 season.  

"At different times, different players really stepped up for us," Pingeton said. "I don't think we wavered. I think we had that mindset that we were going to find a way."

Four Tigers scored in double figures led by senior center Liz Smith, who had 15. Doty had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. 

The Tigers will resume play Sunday, when No. 9 Tennessee visits Mizzou Arena for a 1 p.m. game. Missouri lost to the Volunteers 84-39 on its trip to Knoxville on Jan. 10.

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