Three days after dominating an opponent from the Show-Me State’s eastern edge, Missouri women’s basketball will travel to the state’s western border.
Thursday’s 83-58 triumph over Saint Louis was a feel-good result for the Tigers, who needed a confidence boost after 2-6 start to the season. On Sunday, they visit Kansas City (Missouri-Kansas City rebranded its athletic teams from UMKC to Kansas City this year) in hopes of collecting back-to-back wins for the first time.
Just as with Saint Louis, Missouri holds a significant advantage in its all-time series against Kansas City. The Tigers’ 13-1 advantage against the Roos includes a 66-59 win last year at Mizzou Arena.
Missouri, led by Sophie Cunningham and ranked 23rd in the country at the time, had a more difficult outing than expected in the 7-point win. The Tigers led by just 2 at halftime before breaking the game open in the third quarter. Kansas City worked its way back within single digits in the fourth.
Amber Smith recorded a double-double for Missouri that night, a feat she would like to replicate Sunday. Coach Robin Pingeton said before the season she hoped to see double-doubles from Smith in every game, but the senior has not fulfilled that goal since the first two games of the campaign.
Lately, the Tigers have turned to their youth to fill out the box score. Aijha Blackwell has been in double-double territory in two consecutive games, while Hayley Frank has scored at least 12 in seven straight contests. The two freshmen have gained spots in Pingeton’s starting lineup after coming off the bench for most of November.
Blackwell and Frank will both be familiar with at least one player in Kansas City’s lineup. Tajah Foster-Walker, a freshman who played alongside Blackwell at Whitfield School in St. Louis and against Frank’s Strafford team in the high school playoffs, has been a regular starter for the Roos. She is averaging 7.4 points through nine games.
Two of Kansas City’s stars to keep an eye on are Emily Ivory and Ericka Mattingly. The duo scored 38 of the team’s 59 points in Columbia last season, and are combining for 28.5 per game this year.
The Roos are off to a 4-5 start, most recently falling 57-53 at Omaha on Wednesday. Missouri will be their first Power 5 opponent of the season, although they did fall by 25 against nationally ranked Missouri State on Dec. 1.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Kansas City’s Swinney Center. Kansas City’s athletics website will stream the game live, while Missouri’s radio broadcast will air on KTGR.