COLUMBIA, MO — 7,200 miles: that’s how far the Missouri Tigers women’s basketball team has traveled this season. They’ve seen two oceans, crossed three time zones and are 2-3 in away games. So, needless to say, the Tigers were happy to be back on their home court on Wednesday night (Dec. 7) against the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Lady Cougars.
Missouri was able to secure an impressive 72-60 win against SIUE, now 2-6 overall, with a big difference maker in the game being the Tigers’ 24-32 performance from the charity stripe compared to the Cougars’ 9-13 mark. Missouri’s standout senior class also stepped up to the plate, as a key player like Sophie Cunningham is missing from the lineup due to injury.
“I’m proud of our seniors; I thought they really stepped up tonight,” Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton said. “I’m happy for them that we were anxious to get back on track. Obviously, [we were] very disappointed after a tough road loss at IUPUI.”
Coming off a 73-45 loss to IUPUI on Sunday (Dec. 4) as Pingeton noted, the Tigers came out blazing at the beginning of the first half against SIUE with Sierra Michaelis taking the game into her own hands— literally— by flinging in back-to-back-to-back treys in the first minute and a half of the contest. She alone put the Tigers up 9-0 for more than two minutes in the first period.
“There’s definitely some in-team competition,” said Michaelis on her teammate Jordan Chavis’ exceptional performances beyond the arc earlier this season. “But if she’s going off, then I couldn’t be more proud of her, and I think it’s vice versa too.”
SIUE locked it up defensively, however, and quickly closed in on Missouri’s double-digit lead that they were able to maintain for much of the first period. The Cougars cut their 10-point deficit by more than half in the final two minutes of the first period.
Both teams battled back-and-forth in the second period, but Missouri was able to maintain their lead despite the Cougars making it as close as a one-point game. SIUE’s Nakiah Bell, a redshirt sophomore, sunk a three-pointer to open up the second quarter to nearly tying the game up.
Lindsey Cunningham’s hard-fought battles on the glass, which resulted in six rebounds, three of which were offensive, followed by a team-high 12 points from Michaelis, ultimately helped the Tigers hold off SIUE in the first 20 minutes. Missouri’s Cierra Porter also added eight points and eight rebounds to give the Tigers a 30-25 lead at halftime.
Michaelis started the second half exactly how she did the first with another impressive bucket from beyond the arc. While the third period started out neck and neck, the Tigers eventually found their stride to gain back a double-digit lead. At the end of three, Missouri led 53-40.
Lianna Doty ripped a page out of Michaelis’ playbook by draining a three-pointer to kick off the final quarter of the night. Missouri extended their lead comfortably into the fourth, by as many as 18 points, making it hard for the Cougars to catch up. Despite a 6-0 run over the final 1:03 of the game, SIUE was unable to extinguish the Tigers on their home floor.
“I think we just got tired,” SIUE assistant coach Todd Schultze said on the Lady Cougars at the end of the second half. “They [Missouri] got a couple of three’s that really put a knife in our back.”
Michaelis ended the night with a game-high 24 points, 6-13 from beyond the arc, in addition to five rebounds. Porter was not far behind with 18 points, 13 rebounds, joining her fellow teammate Lindsey Cunningham who also posted a double-double notching 11 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Missouri will take on Wichita State this Friday (Dec. 9) at home at 7 p.m. C.T. for the second game in their four-game home stand.