If the women’s basketball three-game Cancun Challenge tournament resembled a Thanksgiving turkey, the Missouri Tigers got to indulge in a leg and a wing.
During Thanksgiving weekend, the Tigers fell from perfection. Missouri went 1-2 in the Cancun Challenge with a win over Wichita State and two losses to Green Bay and Minnesota. The team is now 4-2.
In the first game of the challenge on Thanksgiving against Wichita State, Missouri managed to keep the Shockers scoreless until the 14-minute mark.
Senior guard Sydney Crafton led the way for the Tigers with an electrifying block early in the first half and added a total of 14 points for the Tigers’ total of 49.
Freshman guard Maddie Stock had a big night as well, hitting two big threes down the stretch to put the Tigers in a spot to maintain a small lead.
Down the stretch, free throws were a big factor in enabling the Tigers to close out Wichita State. Freshman guard Lianna Doty, who had eight points that night, put up an and-one. Soon, Crafton and sophomore guard Kyley Simmons would follow with their own trips to the charity line to put out the Shockers’ fuse.
But the holiday festivities would come to an early close for the Tigers. The next day, they would suffer a 55-33 loss to the Green Bay Phoenix — their first loss of the season.
In their second game against the Phoenix, no Missouri players were able to score in double digits. Sophomore guard Morgan Eye came the closest with nine points, shooting 3-10 from the perimeter.
The Tigers’ shooting woes went beyond Eye. The team shot a total of 29 shots from the perimeter but made only five. The free throw line was not an ally for the Tigers in this matchup, going 4-7. As the Green Bay Phoenix made a total of 10 3-pointers, they also took advantage of 15 of their 21 free throws, numbers with which the Tigers could not keep up.
With a loss to Green Bay, the Tigers would fight the Minnesota Golden Gophers for second place in the Cancun Challenge. The game would go down to the wire but would result in a 59-54 heartbreaker for Missouri.
The Tigers held the lead for most of the first half as Eye put in a three to put Missouri up 25-21, which then led to a 28-23 lead going into halftime.
The Gophers would not stay behind long, though, into the second half. With two free throws and a quick layup, Minnesota was on top with 11:34 left on the clock.
The Tigers would fight back several times, appearing to have clamped down on a victory with just more than three minutes remaining in the game.
The Gophers were able to tie the game at 53, thanks to a bucket from freshman guard Kayla Hirt, but it was sophomore guard Rachel Banham who put the Tigers away with a clutch basket and two free throws.
Regardless of the loss, the Tigers have a lot to be proud of.
Doty shined brightly with her season-high 16 points, and Crafton and freshman forward Bri Kulas also had double digits on the night.
The Tigers return to Columbia with a 4-2 record and will take on Southeast Missouri State on Thursday.