COLUMBIA — Liz Smith pivoted under the basket and forced the ball up through flailing arms. It fell through the net, earning the Missouri women's basketball team its first lead of the game against LSU on Friday at Mizzou Arena.
It happened in overtime with four minutes left to play.
Following the basket, LSU went on a 9-0 run. With 1:21 left to play and Missouri down 70-68, a foul on Bri Kulas sent LSU's Shanece McKinney to the free throw line.
Liene Priede waited in the corner of the opposite side of the court with hands on her knees and head down. She glanced up only after the shots had been made to bring LSU ahead 72-68.
Missouri never recovered, and the Tigers lost 78-74 — their fourth consecutive loss following their upset of No. 9 Tennessee.
In the post game press conference, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton took her seat and placed her face in her hands with eyes fixed on the table.
"Certainly some positives," she said. "But not enough."
Pingeton said she was proud of seniors Priede and Smith, but the team is still struggling with turnovers.
Following the foul on Kulas, Pingeton stared at the referee with disappointed eyes. Defeated, she let her arms fall limply to her side and sat on the bench.
"Very frustrating," Pingeton said of the call, her voice increasing in volume as she tapped her water bottle on the table. "But when you give up 29 points off turnovers..."
Missouri totaled 21 turnovers against LSU. Pingeton attributes the abundance of turnovers to break downs in communication and being too loose with the ball.
"I think as a team, we need to get tougher mentally," Smith said. "I think our practices, with the exception of one, have been pretty solid."
Priede led the team in points with 18, Kulas followed with 17, and Smith scored 15.
"I love how aggressive Liz Smith played tonight," Pingeton said. "I felt like offensively, Liz was really doing a great job getting inside."
With 3:13 left to play in the second half, Sydney Crafton passed the ball out to Priede who shot from behind the arc to decrease Missouri's deficit to 64-61.
"I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I’m not," Pingeton said of Priede. "She had a slow start but, senior years are tough. The great thing is, she has pushed through it."
At 1:13 in the second half, Missouri trailed 66-63. Kyley Simmons charged towards the basket. When she encountered pressure, she passed the ball to Priede and then darted towards the open hardwood floor. Priede got the ball back into Simmons hands, and she scored a 3-pointer to bring Missouri into overtime.
Priede played for 30 minutes and had just one turnover.
"We need her offense — she can score a lot of points in a hurry and in a variety of ways," Pingeton said of Priede. "I'm proud of her."
Missouri fell 15-12 for the season, 4-9 conference play. The Tigers must win one more game in order to have the chance to qualify for postseason play.
"I don’t look at it as pressure, I look at it as an opportunity," Pingeton said. "Bottom line, we’ve got to play tougher."