Missouri women's basketball season ends in first round WNIT loss

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 11:03 p.m. CDT

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Missouri’s Bree Fowler put up an open jumper that hit the back of the rim and fell into the hands of a Creighton player.

That clanking open shot summed up how Thursday went for the Missouri women's basketball team. For the second consecutive year, the Tigers found themselves on the losing end of a first-round Women’s National Invitation Tournament game.

Missouri sophomore Lianna Doty led Missouri with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists, but it wasn’t enough for the Tigers in their 77-51 loss to Creighton on Thursday in Omaha, Neb.

Missouri (17-14) has not won a postseason game since 2003.

The Tigers trailed by 10 less than four minutes into the game because of a 1-of-8 start from the field despite a few open looks. Doty took over for Missouri and made two driving plays that led to four points for the Tigers, but the Tigers offense struggled to sustain rhythm.

After trailing by 12 for the second time, Missouri went on a 13-0 run to grab a 22-21 lead.

Senior Bri Kulas scored her 1,000th point as a Missouri player to give the Tigers that lead. Kulas finished with 11 points and finished her career with 49 double-digit scoring games. Coach Robin Pingeton said Kulas played with a stomach virus in what proved to be her final game.

The one-point lead was short lived. Creighton’s Sarah Nelson hit a jumper the next time down the court. The Bluejays extended their lead, but Missouri rallied in the last five minutes of the half to get within one point.

Kulas passed to Jordan Frericks under the basket, and the freshman made a layup as the first half came to an end.

The Tigers shot just 37.1 percent from the field in the first half but led 32-31. They were not as lucky in the second half.

Missouri traded buckets with Creighton at the beginning of the second, but the Bluejays had a 12-0 run early on, and Missouri couldn’t recover.

Creighton made the shots it needed. Missouri didn’t.

"I’m really disappointed in our second half of basketball," Pingeton said on the KTGR post-game radio show. "Obviously, (we) had a hard time shooting the ball tonight. Just really disappointed."

The Tigers finished the game shooting 32.3 percent and just 17.4 percent from 3-point range, an area that has been a strength for Missouri all season. The Tigers came into the game averaging nine 3-pointers per game, but made only five against the Bluejays.

The Big East Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, Marissa Janning, led all scorers with 19 points. Nelson finished with 18 points and Alexis Akin-Otiko added 10 points. Creighton shot 55.6 percent and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.

The Tigers were outscored 46-19 in the second half and outrebounded 47-31 in the game. The last field goal scored by Missouri came with less than seven minutes to play in the game.

In the four minutes Pingeton spoke after the game, she used the word, "disappointed," four times. She said she expected much more from her team and that the team’s goal was to dominate inside the paint. The Bluejays outscored the Tigers 40-28 inside.

Pingeton also expressed displeasure with Missouri’s defense.

The 77 points Creighton scored were the most the Tigers had given up in a losing effort since losing to then-No. 7 South Carolina 78-62. The 26-point deficit Thursday was Missouri’s largest of the season.

"We got blown by tonight in ways that didn’t happen to us in the SEC," Pingeton said.

The Tigers finish with 17 wins for the second consecutive season, but also failed to get a win in the SEC Tournament and WNIT for the second consecutive season. 

"It's been a year of some really good things and some tough, tough losses," Pingeton said. "This one’s not gonna sit well for awhile."

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.

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