After taking down No. 7 Mississippi State on Thursday night, the No. 24 Missouri women's basketball team was on a high. Sunday's game at Arkansas, however, brought the Tigers back to earth. Missouri started hot but quickly gave up an early lead in a contentious 64-52 loss at Bud Walton Arena.
From a first half punctuated by 3-pointers to a second half punctuated by whistles, Sunday's matchup was a seesaw that ended with the Razorbacks sending the Tigers firmly down to earth.
It was Arkansas' second straight takedown of a ranked opponent at home after beating No. 12 Tennessee 64-59 on Thursday, at the same time Missouri was completing its Bulldogs upset. Missouri is now 15-3 overall, falling to 2-3 in Southeastern Conference play.
Although Missouri once led by 10 points in the first quarter, Arkansas battled to take back control in the second half. The Tigers briefly closed the gap in a physical third quarter, but ultimately saw three starters foul out of the game.
At least five times in the second half, officials had to step in and ask players from both teams to settle down. Referees took nearly two minutes to review a third-quarter play in which Missouri forward Jordan Frericks struck an Arkansas defender in the face while rebounding the ball, and ultimately ruled it a technical foul as opposed to a flagrant.
Sierra Michaelis led Missouri with 18 points, going 7-15 from the floor before fouling out. Cierra Porter added 14 points, including a career-best two 3-pointers.
Jessica Jackson led Arkansas with 15 points.
The Tigers scored their first six points from beyond the arc, thanks to splashes from Porter and Michaelis. Michaelis added three of Missouri's five first quarter triples. But, the Tigers couldn't find the basket for the last 4:17 of the period, allowing the Razorbacks to get within five points, 17-12.
Missouri didn't score for the first three minutes of the second quarter, letting Arkansas go on a 6-1 run. The Razorbacks dominated on the boards both offensively and defensively, out-rebounding the Tigers 23-13.
Missouri didn't score any points in the paint during the first half. The Tigers added just nine points in the period and were at a 26-32 deficit at halftime.
A 3-pointer by Arkansas' leading scorer, Jackson, gave the Razorbacks their largest lead of the game, 37-30. Jackson, who was held to just three points in the first half, notched seven in the third quarter.
It was a rough 10 minutes full of whistles, with 12 personal fouls.
Missouri's frustration increased when Frericks was called for a technical foul for striking an Arkansas defender in the face while attempting to rebound Porter's missed free throw. Two minutes later, back-to-back technicals were whistled on Razorback guard Devin Cosper and Tiger guard Lindsey Cunningham. Despite the tense atmosphere, Missouri fought back to within one point to trail 42-43.
On the opening possession of the fourth quarter, Frericks landed a layup to give the Tigers their first lead of the second half. Tempers continued to flare for both teams with abundant opportunities at the free throw line. Arkansas went on a 7-0 run for a 55-47 advantage midway through the period. Missouri never got back in the game, and Arkansas used aggression to bring home its third win over a ranked team this season.
Missouri will face No. 15 Texas A&M on Thursday.
Supervising editor is Allen Fennewald.