Missouri women's basketball worn down by LSU's physicality in overtime loss

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 5:04 p.m. CST; updated 6:46 p.m. CST, Friday, February 22, 2013
Missouri center Liz Smith shoots the ball in the second half of the women's basketball game Friday at Mizzou Arena. The game had to be rescheduled from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon because of road blockage caused by Thursday's snowstorm.

With the game tied at 66-66 and the seconds ticking off the clock, Missouri senior center Liz Smith found herself under the basket with the ball in her hands. 

On Friday, it was a familiar sight, and one that usually had led to a quick two points.

Smith spent the afternoon battling with junior forward Shanece McKinney in the Missouri women's basketball team's game against LSU. 

Despite McKinney's 3-inch height advantage over Smith, Missouri's 6-foot-1 center was winning most of the battles, repeatedly fighting her way around the defender to make contested layups or stepping back to sink mid-range jump shots that helped keep Missouri in the game. 

But before she had a chance to make a move and give Missouri the last-minute lead, LSU's Adrienne Webb ran in and forced a jump ball. 

Missouri coach Robin Pingeton argued from the sidelines that it should have been a foul, but possession went to LSU and the game eventually went into overtime.

And in the extra period, LSU blocked three of Missouri's shots, and Missouri was unable to recover in the 78-74 overtime loss. 

Pingeton called the jump ball "very frustrating," but said her team's continuing turnover issues held it back in the loss.

"We had 21 turnovers, and we've been talking about this for a long time as a team," Pingeton said, her voice getting louder. "Until we decide that we're going to shore that up, we're going to have a hard time."

After the game, LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said McKinney's play was a key factor in the victory.

"We were just able to come away with some defensive plays down the stretch," Caldwell said. "McKinney has a longer reach, and I think that may have disrupted (Smith) a little bit."

Caldwell had high praise for Smith, who finished the game with 15 points and three rebounds.

"One thing about Smith is, she kept doing the work before the ball got there," Caldwell said. "Our post players can take a lesson from how hard she was positioning herself to get two feet in the paint." 

Playing in front of a small crowd after Thursday's blizzard postponed the game to early Friday afternoon, Missouri was able to fight back late in regulation after trailing for most of the game.

But the loss drops the Tigers to 15-12 overall and 4-9 in the Southeastern Conference, and Missouri is left searching for the elusive 16th win that would make them postseason-eligible.

Pingeton said she didn't feel any extra pressure despite the fact that her team has been stuck at 15 wins since its victory over Tennessee on Feb. 3.

"I don't look at is as pressure, I look at it as an opportunity," she said. "You know, that's why you play the game. If you feel pressure, you better wrap your arms around it and embrace it."

Missouri will face a quick turnaround before its next game at 2 p.m. Sunday at Auburn.

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