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Missouri women take different road in win vs. Arkansas

Missouri women take different road in win vs. Arkansas

January 11th, 2019 by Colin O'Brien in Mizzou Sports

COLUMBIA — Four days after the Missouri women's basketball team shot 10-of-22 from 3-point range in an upset at No. 10 Tennessee, a game in which the Tigers had six offensive rebounds and gave up 18, the tables were turned in a 71-53 win Thursday against Arkansas at Mizzou Arena.

Missouri, now 14-3 and 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference, scored 48 points in the paint, 28 in the first half, and dominated the glass 45-28 against the Razorbacks (12-5, 1-2).

The Tigers shot 50 percent from the field to the Razorbacks' 30 percent, and were just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc while Arkansas shot 9-of-31. The Razorbacks, one of the nation's best teams at getting to the line coming into the game, shot seven free throws in the game, and none in the second half.

"They can make you wrong," Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. "I thought we were very prepared, and at times they made us look like we weren't, but I can assure you, they're just that good."

Missouri led 34-14 at halftime, and the win extended the team's winning streak to a season-high six games.

"I was very concerned going into this game," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. "I watched a lot of film on Arkansas, and Neighbors has a really nice squad, they put you in a tough situation to be able to guard the 3 because they're just such high-volume shooters, and to guard the paint and keep them off the free-throw line. But I thought our kids did a really nice job tonight, especially defensively in following the game plan."

In a closer game, the Tigers' lack of a perimeter attack or 17 turnovers might have made a difference.

Instead, Missouri took what it was given by the Razorbacks, and when their opponent succeeded in taking away the 3-point shot, the Tigers were perfectly happy working the ball inside.

Arkansas scored just eight points from those turnovers, and Missouri's defense kept the Razorbacks at bay. Arkansas had 14 points at halftime and despite scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers took a 21-point lead, their largest lead of the game, with 2:24 left to play.

"Just to be real honest, it's really hard when you kind of have, almost the game of your life against Tennessee, to try to get back up, because in the SEC, anyone can win on any given night," Missouri senior Sophie Cunningham said. "No disrespect to Arkansas at all, but I think our team did handle that really well. For us to get our largest lead in the fourth quarter, we handled and weathered some things well and (extended) the lead late, which is good."

Amber Smith notched her seventh double-double of the season, leading Missouri with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Emmanuelle Tahane matched her season-best 13 points, which she also scored against Saint Louis, and Cunningham finished with 11 points.

Cierra Porter had an efficient nine points and seven rebounds in 13 minutes of action as she continues to work her way back into the rotation for the Tigers.

"I definitely want to keep improving for this team, but cardiovascular-wise and just feel of the game-wise, I feel pretty good," Porter said. "It's fun to be back out there."

Chelsea Dungee was Arkansas' leading scorer, making 4-of-17 shots from the floor and shooting four of her team's seven foul shots. No other player scored more than six points or had more than six rebounds for the Razorbacks.

"They did a tremendous job of guarding without fouling, taking that out of part of our attack," Neighbors said. "Then we get a little frustrated and take some tough shots, and two of our main scorers don't score in the first half, and when that happens, you're going to have a nine-point quarter and a five-point quarter."

Missouri plays Sunday at Florida (2 p.m., SEC Network).

The Tigers are one of three teams, along with South Carolina and Mississippi State, at 3-0 in conference play. It's the first time the Tigers have gotten off to a 3-0 start since they joined the SEC.

The Gators, 4-12 and 0-3 in conference, join Vanderbilt and Mississippi as teams winless in SEC play.