DALLAS — Missouri made it known early it would be around for the second round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament this year.
The seventh-seeded Tigers shot nearly 66 percent in the first half before winning 75-52 against No. 10 seed Oklahoma State in the first round of the tournament Tuesday at Reunion Arena.
The win sets up a rematch between the Tigers and second-seeded Kansas State at 6 tonight.
The win is important because it keeps Missouri’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive and avenges last year’s 56-54 upset loss to the Cowgirls in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.
Oklahoma State’s win last year ended the Tigers’ hopes of a NCAA appearance and was the first time an 11th seed won in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.
Missouri (17-11) jumped to the early lead, opening with a 3-pointer from junior center Megan Roney. The basket sparked a 13-1 run before sophomore guard Lori Allen made the Cowgirls’ first field goal with 13:44 left in the half.
“I thought that we were ready to play,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “I thought we started off right away with Megan Roney hitting that 3-pointer and I think that really set the tone that we were ready to take the court.”
The Cowgirls (8-20) turned the ball over 13 times in the first half and didn’t reach double figures until 8:43 was left in the half.
Missouri was set to close the first half with an 8-0 run in the final 2:52, but the Cowgirls’ Nina Stone banked an 18-footer at the buzzer to make it 48-26 at the half.
Seven Tigers scored in the first half, and four finished in double figures.
Roney led the Tigers with a career-high 15 points and senior forward Stretch James added 14 points. Senior guard Tracy Lozier ended her shooting slump, making 5-of-9 shots for 13 points and sophomore guard LaToya Bond finished with 11 points and six assists.
Missouri made 31-of-62 shots, which is a drastic improvement from its 29.7 percent shooting in last year’s first-round loss to the Cowgirls.
Oklahoma State, which has the worst offense and defense in the conference, was playing its second game without senior center Trisha Skibbe, who quit March 1 for personal reasons.
Skibbe led the conference in scoring and averaged 19 points and 7.8 rebounds.
The Cowgirls didn’t waste time Tuesday, going to Stone, who is the second-leading scorer, averaging 12 points and 3.9 rebounds.
Stone controlled the ball most of the game and was one of two Cowgirls in double figures, with 17 points. OSU center Eliz Gomes was the other Cowgirl, scoring 21 before fouling out with 6:04 left.
The Tigers and Kansas State will meet for the third time this season.
Missouri lost 95-59 in Manhattan on Jan. 7 in its first game without Bond, who broke her left foot at St. Louis University on Jan. 4. With Bond back in the lineup, the Tigers fought Kansas State to a 93-90 double-overtime loss Feb. 22.
Missouri is on a four-game winning streak.
“I really feel confident about our team,” Stein said. “I think that we are finding ways to win, I think that we will be ready, just what it is going to take, I am not sure.
“They are tough, we know that, but I think our kids are ready for another matchup with them.”