COLUMBIA, MO – There’s something truly remarkable about the connection that Sophie and Lindsey Cunningham share. It’s not just the moments on the court that depict their unmatched bond, but the cheers, hugs, high-fives, glances and smiles that they give one another when the ball isn’t in play that shows everyone lucky enough to witness this duo, and the Tiger team, that there’s something special going on at Missouri.
Their bond is just one small facet of the overall bond that this team shares and the glue that holds this team together. Well, Robin Pingeton says the senior leadership and their voice in the locker room is something that she will always give them credit for.
“There talk in the locker room is why we are the way that we are. They paved the path for us,” said Sophie Cunningham about the senior leadership.
To celebrate senior night all three seniors did what they always do for their team: contribute. Lianna Doty dished out four assists to move up to second place all-time in program history; Lindsey Cunningham knocked down 21 points and Sierra Michaelis got a career high of eight assists.
Sophie and Lindsey Cunningham combined for an unbelievable 53 points tonight for senior night to take down the Ole Miss Rebels in a 100-65 at-home massacre. Missouri reached a season high of 14 triples as a team tonight and also made conference play history by scoring 100 points against a conference opponent for the first time since 1989.
“It’s always special playing with your sibling. It’s not the end, we’ve got to focus in on Alabama now,” said Sophie Cunningham on her last home game with her sister.
The excitement from the final whistle last Sunday when the Tigers knocked down No. 6 South Carolina 62-60 at the buzzer was still pulsating throughout the Mizzou Arena on Thursday night, as fans filled the stands donned in their black and gold for the final home game of Missouri’s season.
“That was a really special environment I couldn’t be more proud of our seniors and our team for holding their emotions in check tonight,” Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton said about her team’s performance tonight for senior night.
The Tigers took off fast against the Ole Miss Rebels, already leading in the double digits after just 10 minutes of play (24-13) and continued to extend that lead until the final second of the first half. Led by Sophie Cunningham, who was recently named ESPNW and USBWA National Player of the Week, with 23 points, her third straight game tallying at least 20 points, Missouri had a quick 20 points (50-26) on their opponent at half time.
While the Tigers took off, with seven Missouri players putting up points, and the team shooting a perfect 100 percent from the charity stripe, the Rebels struggled to connect shots and were held to a mere 13 points for nearly five minutes of play over two quarters.
The third quarter started off slow for both teams, but the strong cushion that the Tigers had created for themselves in the first half allowed them to maintain their over 20 point lead with ease.
It didn’t take Missouri long to find their third period stride, though. The Tigers refused to go easy on Ole Miss, establishing a whopping 31 point lead just before the third media time out — their biggest lead in conference play this season. A near half court shot at the third period buzzer by three-pointer phenomenon Jordan Chavis was just the surge that the Tigers needed heading into the final stanza.
The final 10 minutes of the game played out just like the first three periods: Missouri in control. The Tigers continued to dominate as they walked off their home court one last time this season with an outstanding victory. Not only did Missouri lead by as many as 40 points, but scored a whopping 100 points to achieve the most points that the Tigers have scored in a conference game since 1989, 100-65.
“If you beat South Carolina then you’ve done something. They know point a to point b where every one of them is at and they’re really good at what they do,” Ole Miss coach Matt Insell raved about the hot Missouri squad.
“You’ve got to get them out of their comfort zone and we didn’t do that very well. I’m going to go to sleep tonight thinking about three’s going in the basket,” Insell stated.
Missouri takes off to Alabama on Sunday for their last conference game of the season. Tip off is at 3 p.m. E.T. Ole Miss will head home to take on Texas A & M on Sunday, tip-off is set for 5 p.m E.T.