Columbia, MO — The players and fans excitement for the upcoming basketball season is at an all time high, as the Missouri Tigers entered the 2016-17 season with their first preseason ranking since 1984 and their fourth ranking in program history, wearing their black and gold stripes proudly. The Tigers are ranked as the #24 team in the country in the Associated Press rankings.
Sophie Cunningham, a sophomore guard and vocal leader for the historic Missouri women’s squad, led the Tigers to an 87-53 win over the Truman State Bulldogs. She scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds to propel her team through their final exhibition game and into the regular season, which starts this Friday.
Cunningham wasn’t the only contributor for the Missouri Tigers, though. Senior Lianna Doty came out ready to play and proved herself with 13 rebounds, a team-high, followed by eight points, six steals and five assists. Senior guard Sierra Michaelis also wowed the crowd this evening with her 18 points, including 4 three pointers.
While this was considered one of Doty’s best games of her career, following a persistent injury, her teammate Sophie Cunningham said her success tonight is typical of the senior.
“I’m not surprised by Doty’s play at all because that’s what we see in practice every day,” said Cunningham.
While cheers erupted as the Tigers rushed the court at the start of the match, the untimely ACL injuries of two crucial players, senior, Jordan Frericks and junior, Bri Porter, were remembered once again while they took a spot on the bench, rather than the court.
The unfortunate absence of these two crucial players makes it even more imperative for the rest of the Tigers to step up and show their coach, fans and team what they’re made of this season.
That’s where Missouri Coach Robin Pingeton says the freshman and experienced players like Doty will come into play this upcoming season.
“I think our freshmen are going to make a great contribution this year,” said coach Pingeton, they play hard, they do a lot of nice things, they make freshmen mistakes, but I think they’re going to do great things for us this year.”
The Bulldogs came out fast and energized at the first whistle, putting up the first three points on the scoreboard after intercepting a turnover by the Tigers, but were unable to secure a lead for the remainder of the game after Mizzou made a 13-0 run to establish and maintain a double-digit lead early on in the match.
The first half was capped off by a 3-point buzzer beater shot by Michaelis, raising the Tigers to a strong 46-21 lead going into the second half.
Truman State came out hot in the third quarter, finding their groove and getting inside of Mizzou’s defense, scoring 13 of their 53 points in the first four minutes.
Their mojo was quickly interrupted however, as Mizzou continued to rack up points and widen the gap on the score board. The quarter came to a close with impressive back-to-back transition three pointers from Jordan Chavis and Michaelis.
After Michaelis’s final three pointer of the game, helping her achieve a remarkable 50 percent shooting night from the field (7-for-14), the Tigers made it down the home stretch comfortably, with another win to prepare them for the upcoming season.
The Tigers will take on Abilene Christian Friday Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Mizzou Arena for their first game of the regular season.