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Columbia Missourian

Missouri women's basketball team loses to Mississippi State

By Taylor Vortherms
February 10, 2013 | 5:57 p.m. CST
The Missouri women's basketball team played in the annual Play4Kay game on Sunday at Mizzou Arena. The Play4Kay game helps raise awareness about breast cancer and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Mississippi State beat Missouri 61-56.

COLUMBIA — Two minutes remained. Liene Priede wove through a pack of maroon before pivoting to find Morgan Eye behind the 3-point arc.

With the Missouri women's basketball team trailing Mississippi State 51-49, Eye shot long range and missed her eighth consecutive 3-point attempt of the game. Liz Smith fought for the rebound, drawing a foul to stop the clock at 1:23.

Priede grabbed Eye's face and looked into her eyes.

"You've got this," Priede said.

With six seconds remaining, Priede got the ball to Eye once again. This time, it sailed through the net — her second successful shot out of 10 3-point attempts of the game.

But it was too little too late, and Missouri lost to Mississippi State 61-56 after beating No. 9 Tennessee a week prior by 17 points.

"Collectively, we didn’t have that fire in our eyes, but she had it" coach Robin Pingeton said referring to Priede. "That’s the LP we’ve been seeing the last couple weeks."

Mississippi State shut down Missouri's offense, holding the team to just three 3-pointers. But Pingeton said the loss could mainly be attributed to turnovers and missed layups, as well as lack of energy and focus throughout the game.

"Little surprised with how we came out of the gates today," Pingeton said. "We have to remember what it took to get to this point."

With two minutes left before halftime, Missouri trailed 25-21. Sydney Crafton and Smith scored two points each to close the gap before the buzzer sounded. With the Tigers and Bulldogs tied at 25, Priede led the team in points with eight, shooting 4-4. Crafton followed with five, and Bri Kulas had four. The team had turned the ball over 13 times.

"The thing that continues to hurt us is our unforced turnovers," Pingeton said. "Bottom line is we didn’t take care of the ball."

With 15 minutes remaining, Priede made a 3-point shot to pull the Tigers ahead to 37-31 — their biggest lead of the game. Following the shot, she backpedaled to the opposite end of the court with her head back and an index finger point to the ceiling.

"We’re not going to talk about missing shots," Pingeton said. "LP has the green light. She’s playing with a lot more confidence."

Turnovers and missed layups sucked momentum away from Missouri and with two minutes left, the Tigers trailed 51-49. 

This time, Missouri couldn't close the gap.

"Maybe we were thinking, 'Oh, we just beat Tennessee, we can beat this team easy,'" Smith said. "We’ve got six games left, and I think this is just a wake up call." 

With 20 seconds remaining and the Tigers down 57-53, Priede took her final shot of the game. It danced along the rim before falling to the side. She finished shooting 6-7 and led the team in points with 14. Kulas and Smith followed with 10 each.

Eye's first 3-pointer of the game set a new school record for threes in a season. Alyssa Hollins previously held the record with 90 in the 2007-08 season. Eye now has 92 for the season.

The team totaled 20 turnovers and was held to shooting 26 percent in the second half.

"We did let an opportunity slip by," Pingeton said. "I didn’t feel like we played to win as much as we hoped to win."

In the postgame press conference, Priede's eyes were red and remained fixed on the table. She spoke softly.

"I try to do what I can. I try to bring energy every day and just stay positive and encourage all the girls," she said, her gaze falling and voice trailing off. "I do the best that I can," she repeated.

After the press conference, Priede exited the door and waited for Pingeton to follow. When Pingeton walked out, Priede greeted her with a hug and the two embraced, rocking back and forth.

"I felt like we had a big turnout waiting for us to do something big tonight," Pingeton said. "It’s hard. I’m really disappointed."