COLUMBIA, MO – After a long week of finals, the Tigers released any end of the semester stress on the court, scoring a season high of 80 points to secure an 80-69 lead over UT Martin and walking away with their 31st consecutive non-conference home win.
Led by Sierra Michaelis with a game high of 23 points, 20 of which were in the second half alone, and Cierra Porter who collected 19 points and 14 rebounds to add yet another double-double to her impressive stat sheet this season, the Tigers were happy with the win, but coach Pingeton says she wants even more from her talented group.
“80 points is great but it was one of those games you felt like you should’ve had 95,” said coach Pingeton on Missouri’s performance today. “We shot the ball well but I felt like we should’ve shot it better than what we did. I’m certainly proud of our kids but we’ve definitely got to keep challenging them for more.”
In her first game back since the Tigers disappointing contest against IUPUI, Sophie Cunningham wasted no time establishing her presence on the court this morning as she, along with her sensational sophomore sidekick, Porter, combined for all of Missouri’s first 14 points in the game.
“She requires so much attention so it let’s other players kind of relax and do their thing,” UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan commented on Sophie Cunningham’s undeniable presence on the court.
Despite UT Martin’s early lead in the first minutes of the game, the Tigers impressive 18-2 performance in the paint in the first quarter gave them the edge they needed to edge out the Skyhawks’ 25-19 going into the second period.
UT Martin struggled at the end of the half and just couldn’t seem to pounce back on the Tigers who were able to maintain that same lead throughout the second quarter, topping the Skyhawks by as many as 19 points and keeping them from the basket for more than five straight minutes.
While Missouri nearly doubled its points, the Skyhawks only tallied a mere eight points in the second period, allowing the Tigers to head to the locker room confidently with a spectacular 43-27 lead going into the second half.
The Tigers and Skyhawks kicked off the third quarter with competing air raids from beyond the arc, with Michaelis leading the impressive air strike for the Tigers to make up for five of the teams six three’s in the third period. Even though the home team was hot, UT Martin drained eight triples itself in an attempt to get back in the game.
Despite their third quarter redemption, the Skyhawks still trailed Missouri and only got within nine points of the hot Tiger squad in the fourth period. UT Martin had a stronger performance in the final 10 minutes of play as they outscored their opponent 17-11, yet it wouldn’t be enough to hand the Tigers their first home loss of the season.
Sophie Cunningham showed no sign of injury on the court today as she knocked down an impressive 21 points behind Michaelis’ 23 and looks forward to powering through the remainder of the season strong.
“It felt good to be back and I’m just happy to be out there,” Cunningham said smiling.
“I think we had 10 people ready to go tonight and that’s a lot different than what we’ve had and I think everyone is excited to have more bodies [on the bench].”
Missouri locked in its 31 consecutive non-conference home win today as they took down UT Martin 80-69 at the final buzzer.
The Tigers will end their long homestand on Monday night against UC Riverside at 7 p.m. C.T.