Turnovers continued to plague the Missouri women's basketball team on Thursday.
Missouri lost to Vanderbilt 53-40 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Duluth, Ga. The Tigers turned the ball over 20 times — twice as many times as Vanderbilt — and the Commodores capitalized on those turnovers with 20 points.
"You don't give yourself much of a chance with statistics like that," coach Robin Pingeton told the Mizzou Network.
Missouri has struggled with turnovers all season, and Pingeton attributes many of the Tigers' losses to that lack of ball security.
Tigers center Liz Smith scored the first two points of the game before Vanderbilt went on a 7-0 run. Smith's success in the paint kept the game close, and she earned back the Tigers' lead with seven minutes left in the first half.
"I was really proud of Liz," Pingeton said. "I felt like she had some war paint on today and competed hard."
Missouri entered halftime with a 17-16 lead. While Vanderbilt struggled to shoot the ball, Missouri failed to hold onto it. The Commodores shot 6-for-35 from the field in the first half, and the Tigers turned the ball over ten times.
"For the first half, we executed the way we needed to," Pingeton said. "Then we got up by seven and at that point, we were not assignment correct."
Early in the second half, Missouri led 26-19 after a deep 3-pointer by Morgan Eye. The 3-pointer marked her 109th of the season, and earned her the all-time SEC single-season record.
After that, Vanderbilt found its shot and went on a 18-0 run. The Tigers never recovered.
Smith finished the game with 16 points, her 11th game in double-figures this season. She also led the team in rebounds with eight, and Eye grabbed seven. Liene Priede followed in points with seven, and Bri Kulas scored five.
Missouri is now 17-14 overall. Now that the Tigers are eliminated from the SEC Tournament, they will now wait to find out if they qualify for the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
"There is no guarantee we are going to be in post season," Pingeton said. "We just got to hang in there. Hopefully, we'll get a call from WNIT. We'll have a nice run there and get some more experience."