Missouri women’s basketball had a season-defining upset within its grasp up two points against No. 8 Texas A&M. Then for the second straight game Missouri wasn’t able to close out the game in the final minutes.
Missouri (5-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) had the ball down two twice in the final minute, but both of those possessions ended in turnovers before the Aggies (14-1, 5-1) made late free throws to ice a 70-66 win Sunday at Mizzou Arena.
With a minute left, Aijha Blackwell missed a point-blank layup after a nifty drive to the hoop. She got her miss but then threw the ball right to a Texas A&M defender. After two missed free throws from the Aggies, Missouri’s inbound pass went off the fingers of guard Shug Dickson and fell out of bounds along with any chance of a Tiger upset.
“It is a tough pill to swallow and we know we’re right there,” Blackwell said. “But I just think that this gives us like the motivation. And I don’t even know the right word for it. Just know that we got it. We’ve got something special in the locker room. And we know that so we just got to put it all together and finish our games.”
Getting into those late-game positions against upper-tier SEC teams is a noticeable improvement for a team that opened conference play with a 15-point loss to Alabama.
Blackwell had an impressive night with 11 points, 16 rebounds and three assists, and Missouri ran solid offense and shot the ball well. LaDazhia Williams had a team-high 20 points for an offense that shot over 50% from the field and over 40% from 3.
“This is why games are so important,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “I think we keep getting better. It’s not necessarily showing up on the scoreboard but I continue to see great growth.
“I think we’ve got a really high ceiling. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together and every game we get under our belt, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.”
The Tigers got out to an 18-11 lead behind hot early shooting and three defensive stops to start the game.
The game became a back-and-forth affair after that, with Missouri’s shooting keeping them in the game against a Texas A&M team that took control of the game by dominating the glass.
The Aggies had 16 offensive rebounds, using their size well against an undersized Missouri frontcourt. Those rebounds, combined with 16 Missouri turnovers, gave Texas A&M several extra possessions. Missouri ran good offense, shot the ball well and got defensive stops by holding Texas A&M to 38.8% shooting but those extra possessions were too much for the Tigers to overcome.
Next, Missouri takes on Florida at 5 p.m. Thursday in Gainesville, Florida.