Missouri women’s basketball struggled to defend the basket in its first three games. But on Saturday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it was their offense that let the Tigers down.
On its first road trip of the season and in search of a win after opening the 2019-20 campaign 1-2 at home, Missouri fell behind right from the start and never fully recovered. The 72-64 final score only emerged after a fourth-quarter awakening brought the Tigers back from what had long been a double-digit deficit.
Missouri shot a paltry 3-of-16 from the field in the first quarter, ending the period down 16-9. Amidst the struggles, Amber Smith still managed to eclipse a career milestone. Her layup with 22 seconds left was the team’s first two-point basket of the game. She ended up with five points on the afternoon as she became the 37th member of the program’s 1,000-point club.
Green Bay (2-1) began to pull away in the second and third quarters as Missouri’s shooting continued to falter. The Phoenix held an 18-point advantage by the end of the third quarter, despite the Tigers playing as well defensively as they had at any point in the young season.
Caitlyn Hibner, who entered Saturday averaging 8.5 points in two games for the Phoenix, put out a 20-point performance to lead Green Bay. She put up career-high numbers with her final points, a fourth quarter 3-pointer that put her team up 61-43.
Missouri made a late charge from there, outscoring Green Bay 21-11 over the final six minutes and pulling to within six in the final minute of the game. Hayley Frank scored nine of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, but fouled out in the final seconds as the Tigers began sending Green Bay to the line in desperation.
Smith, who equaled Frank’s 12 points, and Aijha Blackwell also fouled out of the contest. Hannah Schuchts was Missouri’s top shooter with 13 points, but she only attempted the sixth-most field goals on the team.
After a win over Western Illinois and losses to Nebraska and Northern Iowa, Saturday’s defeat landed Missouri at 1-3 for the first time since 2008. The lone victory in that season’s first four games also came against Western Illinois.
The Tigers’ current three-game slide is their longest losing streak to come entirely against non-conference opponents since 2004, when the team lost to Eastern Michigan, Missouri State and Stanford in succession.
After coming up short against a Green Bay team which often finds itself in the conversation for best mid-major squad in the country, Missouri will face another solid opponent in South Dakota, which beat the Phoenix in Green Bay last weekend.
The Tigers will travel to face the Coyotes at 7 p.m. Thursday in Vermillion, South Dakota.