Robin Pingeton entered the media room after No. 23 Missouri’s 66-59 win over the UMKC Roos with an obvious look of disappointment on her face.

On paper, the victory showed no deviations from the recent success her team has enjoyed. After all, the Tigers are back in the top 25 rankings, have won four in a row and got a victory in their first game at home since Nov. 19.

But according to Pingeton, a deeper look at the game shows plenty of causes for concern.

“It wasn’t one of our better games,” Pingeton said. “Honestly, I didn’t think we came with a killer mentality tonight, and I think that’s the most disappointing thing.”

Pingeton pointed to a couple of key areas to make her point: turnovers and performance at the free throw line. The Tigers shot 53.6 percent from the line and turned the ball over 17 times against a team that never pressured them.

Pingeton described the Tigers’ performance in both areas of the game in a similar manner.

“That (lack of) sense of urgency is going to come back to bite us if we don’t figure it out,” Pingeton said. “Seventeen turnovers against a team that doesn’t press you is just unacceptable.

“(Our performance) at the free throw line to me was just unacceptable. We’re too good of shooters. To me, that’s more of a focus situation.”

Despite averaging the second-most points per game of any Missouri Tiger this season, senior Sophie Cunningham hasn’t been herself for much of the season to date. On Thursday night, though, she had a vintage Sophie Cunningham game, scoring 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting.

The game was just the third this season that Cunningham has shot greater than 50 percent from the field in games where she’s shot the ball at least five times. She could have finished with more points had she not fouled out with 2:45 remaining.

Missouri (7-2) also got plenty of help from steady-as-she-goes Amber Smith. The junior guard scored 19 points and posted 10 rebounds to pick up her fifth double-double of the year.

Because the Tigers were struggled from beyond the arc (3-for-12) and were downright bad from the line, they had to score by overwhelming their opponents on the boards. They certainly did that against UMKC, out-rebounding UMKC the Roos by 13 and collecting 36 points in the paint.

In many ways, the game was a tale of two halves. In the first, the Roos shot the ball uncharacteristically well, posting a 50 percent clip from the field and 40 percent from 3, two marks well above their season averages. As a result, Missouri was able to enter the locker room clinging to a two point lead. It would’ve been tied had it not been for a smooth step-back jumper from Cunningham just before the horn sounded.

Reality arrived in the third quarter, however. The Tigers shot 7 of 13 in that period while the Roos shot a dismal 2 of 10, allowing the Tigers to win the quarter 21-9 and open up a 14 point lead going into the fourth quarter.

The third quarter performance wasn’t enough for Pingeton, though, who will surely be testing her team’s grit in practice before it heads to St. Louis to take on St. Louis University at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“I think we’re at our best when we play with toughness and grittiness and attention to detail,” Pingeton said. “That’s the approach I know we had against West Virginia ... but we got away from that tonight. I think when you get away from that kind of mentality, you’re going to be a pretty average team.”

Supervising editor is Michaela Bennett.

  • Fall 2018 sports beat writer. I am a junior studying sports journalism.

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