Missouri’s athletics department probably won’t have to rename itself ‘Columbia’ anytime soon. But the university’s flagship status was not so apparent Sunday, when the women’s basketball team was upended by in-state foe Kansas City.
In a 25-point win over Saint Louis on Thursday, the Tigers appeared to have regained some traction following a 2-6 start to the season. But the offensive groove they had found against the Billikens never surfaced in Kansas City, where the Roos pulled ahead late to seal a 59-56 upset victory.
Missouri (3-7) led for more than 86% of the game, including the entire second and third quarters, but never took enough control to put the Roos away. Ericka Mattingly, Kansas City’s top scorer on the season, spearheaded the comeback with 18 second-half points as the hosts retook the advantage.
The Tigers surged in front in the first quarter, led by 7 points from Aijha Blackwell, who continued her impressive run over the past few weeks. The freshman finished with 11 points while matching up one-on-one with former high school teammate Tajah Foster-Walker.
Hayley Frank and Amber Smith each scored a team-high 12 points, but most of the Missouri roster struggled to generate offense throughout the afternoon. Only six Tigers found the basket, and the team shot 37.1% from the field.
Blackwell and Frank were among the biggest shooting culprits, achieving their respective point totals only after missing a combined 72.7% of their field goals.
Missouri was without the services of Haley Troup, who left the Saint Louis game early after getting shaken up in a collision. It is unclear how long the Tigers expect her to be sidelined.
For all of Missouri’s offensive struggles, Kansas City (5-5) could not muster much itself in the first half. Mattingly and Emily Ivory, who combined for 38 points in the Roos’ loss in Columbia last year, were kept off the board entirely in the opening 20 minutes.
That began to change in the third quarter, when Mattingly erupted for 14 of her 18 points, pulling Kansas City within 46-45 entering the fourth. A 7-0 fourth-quarter run, which included a 3 from Ivory, handed the Roos their first lead since the opening minutes, 52-51 with 3:12 left.
The Tigers had their chances down the stretch, but Blackwell and Jordan Chavis each missed 3-pointers in the final minute that would have put the visitors back on top. Blackwell’s miss turned into a layup by Jonaie Johnson at the other end, icing the game at 59-53 with seven seconds left.
Frank scored from deep on Missouri’s final possession, but the outcome was already settled. The Roos leapt in celebration as the buzzer sounded, sealing Kansas City’s second win over the flagship campus in 15 tries.
After Missouri conducts its final exams this week, the Tigers will return to the court next Sunday at Missouri State. The Bears have emerged as the top team in the Show-Me State, starting the year 8-1 and earning the country’s No. 22 ranking.