Women’s basketball wins Southeastern Conference opener, beats Alabama 62-56

Despite losing junior Sophie Cunningham to a knee injury, Missouri was able to hold off a fourth-quarter rally from the Tide.

Sophomore guard Sophie Cunningham, 3, looks to the basket as she makes the winning shot. Cunningham had 26 points against South Carolina on February 20 2017, including the winning basket. Maneater File Photo

With 1:20 left in the fourth quarter, Missouri was without its star, junior Sophie Cunningham, and had a crucial possession in its Southeastern Conference opener versus Alabama.

Cunningham had left the game with 8:11 left in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury. After Cunningham left, Alabama went on a late 11-0 run and Missouri’s 14-point lead shrunk to three after a triple by Alabama’s Hannah Cook.

Missouri was in need of a score to stop the bleeding, and sophomore Jordan Chavis delivered. She drew a foul on a 3-pointer and then made all three free throws to ice a 62-56 win for the Tigers.

Chavis stepped up time and time again for Missouri, hitting all five of her free throws in the final 1:20 and leading the Tigers with four 3s and a career-high 17 points in a team-high 33 minutes.

Cunningham also added 13 points for the Tigers before she left in the fourth quarter. The severity of Cunningham’s injury is unknown, and she will be evaluated when Missouri returns to Columbia.

Missouri shot the ball well from outside, shooting 10 for 22 from behind the arc. The Tigers also made all 14 of their free throws.

Missouri’s defense held Alabama to 29 percent shooting from the field and Missouri held the Tide’s leading scorer, Cook, in check by holding her to a 3-for-11 shooting performance.

Turnovers plagued Missouri. Alabama was able to hang around by creating easy opportunities off of Tiger turnovers. Alabama had 26 points off of 18 Missouri turnovers, while the Tide only had eight turnovers.

After losing their season opener to Western Kentucky, the Tigers have now tied the program record of 13 straight wins. It’s the third time Missouri has won 13 straight in program history.

Missouri will play its next SEC game at home versus LSU on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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