Columbia, MO — If Missouri’s New Year resolution was to win this year, then they’re off to a good start.
The Tigers, led by the standouts, Cierra Porter and Sierra Michaelis, who combined for 40 points, beat the Georgia Bulldogs 63-45 in an impressive at home blowout on New Year’s Day.
“It was a complete team win, and I felt like we played with a lot of heart, a lot of toughness and a lot of grittiness,” said Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton on her team's notable win.
The opening minutes of the game were close as both teams battled back and forth for the first seven minutes. It wasn’t until a strong run ignited by Porter’s perfect pair of free throws, she ranks seventh nationally with 71, helped Missouri secure a solid eight-point lead going into the second period, which was polished off by a deep three by Jordan Chavis in the final seconds of the quarter.
Georgia wasn’t going to let the Tigers sneak away with that lead, though. A quick 7-0 run gave them the ammo they needed to cut down Missouri’s lead, making it a mere one-point game. A steal by Georgia standout Pachis Roberts gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead since the opening minutes.
The Tigers remained composed, regaining the lead and ending the half ahead 33-29 after a great sister act play by Sophie and Lindsey Cunningham. Older sister Lindsey made a nice pass to Sophie who scored a layup with under a minute to go before the half, which resulted in pushing Missouri’s lead to four, 33-29.
“We came in the locker room [at half], and we said it’s 0-0 we’ve got to put a full game together because we’ve had a lot of inconsistency with that throughout this year,” said senior shooting sensation Michaelis.
And there was nothing inconsistent for the Tigers in the second half.
The Tigers came out of the gates blazing in the third period with Michaelis leading the pack with 12 points which came from beyond the arc; she ended the night shooting 4-for-8 from deep.
Missouri stifled the Bulldogs offense in the third period holding them to a mere six points in the quarter. With stops on the defensive end, the Tigers were able to convert on the offensive side and created a big lead. The Tigers entered the final 10 minutes ahead by 16 points.
“We’ve just got to make open shots,” said Georgia head coach Joni Taylor. “They’re sagging off of us which is nothing new we’ve seen it all year long, and we’re going to continue to see it until we can start knocking down shots.”
In spite of missing open shots, though, Georgia continued to fight in the fourth quarter. They came back for revenge in the last quarter as Roberts was the prime reason the Lady Bulldogs made their comeback attempt.
Despite coming within seven points of Missouri, Georgia just couldn’t quite pull off the win, and Missouri walked away victorious with a strong 63-45 win. The Tigers improve to 11-4, 1-0 in SEC play.
The Tigers will hit the road this week to take on No. 17 Kentucky on Thurs., Jan. 5, at 7 p.m ET.
As for the Lady Bulldogs, they are now 8-6 on the year and 0-1 in conference play. They will return home to face Texas A & M on Jan. 5 for tip-off set for 7 p.m. ET.