Tigers fail to keep momentum, fall to Mississippi State

Coach Robin Pingeton apologized to the fans after the loss.

After its thrilling win over Southeastern Conference-leading No. 9 Tennessee, Missouri women’s basketball suffered a loss on Sunday.

A lack of energy along with uncharacteristically poor 3-point shooting for Missouri led to a 61-56 loss against Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.

“I think maybe we were thinking ‘Oh, we just beat Tennessee, we can get this team easy,’ and not everyone collectively had the mindset that we needed to go attack them,” senior center Liz Smith said. “I didn’t feel the fight that we had that whole Tennessee game.”

Missouri coach Robin Pingeton echoed her disappointment with the team’s effort.

“Man, I want to apologize to our fans,” Pingeton said. “I thought we had a great turnout tonight, I thought they were just waiting for us to make some big things happen.”

Despite going just one of seven from behind the arc in the first half, Pingeton said she had no intentions of limiting 3-point opportunities for her best shooters.

“We’ve got certain kids that have the green light and we’re not going to pull the reins back on them,” Pingeton said.

With the go-ahead from their coach, the Tigers (15-9, 4-6 SEC) fired up almost twice as many long-distance shots in the second half, but finished with just three made 3-point field goals, their second worst yield of the season.

The low total didn’t result strictly from poor shooting. Mississippi State focused on their perimeter defense in practice this week, especially working on shutting down sophomore guard Morgan Eye.

“We tried to be there on the pass with her,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “If you’re there on the catch, you might be too late, so we tried to be there on the pass and just really guard the arc. That’s obviously their strength, so we worked hard on it.”

With Mississippi State (11-12, 3-7 SEC) locking down the perimeter, Missouri did find some solace in mid-range jump shots. Senior guard Liene Priede went five for five from inside the arc, leading to 14 points, her highest total of the season.

The game stayed close through most of the second half, with neither team leading by more than four until the final 15 seconds.

“The thing that continues to hurt us, though, is our turnovers,” Pingeton said. “I thought we had opportunities in that second half to kind of put it away a little bit, but then we had some unforced turnovers and some missed layup opportunities.”

Rebounding also hurt Missouri. Leading by two with 50 seconds remaining in the game, Mississippi State junior guard Katia May missed a 3-point shot, but her teammate, six-foot-four sophomore center Martha Alwal, grabbed the rebound and put it back in.

“I think I was just in the right place at the right time, honestly,” Alwal said. “I had missed another put-back a couple of minutes before so I just wanted to make up for it.”

After going two for three on its current home stand, Missouri will travel to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt on Thursday. The Commodores compare similarly to the Tigers with an overall record of 15-7 and a 5-4 record in the SEC.

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