The Maneater

Cunningham leads women’s basketball to win over Missouri State

The Tigers took down the Bears 69-59 behind 26 points from junior Sophie Cunningham and 17 points from sophomore Amber Smith.

Sophomore guard Sophie Cunningham, 3, pauses outside the key to redirect an offensive play during the MU home game facing Truman State.

Missouri women’s basketball won its third straight game Sunday night, taking down intrastate rival Missouri State 69-59 at JQH Arena in Springfield, Missouri.

The Tigers were led by junior Sophie Cunningham’s season-high 26-point performance, which included 13 first-quarter points that gave the Tigers a 19-18 lead after the opening quarter.

Cunningham, who excelled particularly in attacking the basket, had an efficient night, shooting 10 of 14 from the field.

In the early going, Missouri State was able to keep pace with the Tigers with the performance of Bears guard Liza Fruendt, who scored 17 of her 29 points in the first half to bring Missouri State within 5 at halftime.

In the third quarter, it looked like Missouri would let the Bears back in the game once Cunningham picked up her fourth foul with 6:31 to go in the quarter and had to go to the bench.

Without its top scorer on the floor, Missouri turned its offense over to sophomore Amber Smith.

Smith responded with a 9-point outburst in the third quarter. Last year’s SEC Co-Freshman of the Year had 17 total points and made a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the quarter to put the Tigers up 56-50.

Entering the fourth quarter up 56-52, the Tigers used stout defense to put the game away. Missouri clamped down, holding Missouri State to 7 fourth-quarter points en route to a 69-59 win.

Missouri used its size to finish well around the basket Sunday but struggled shooting from outside. The Tigers shot 21 of 28 inside the 3-point line but went just 4 of 19 from beyond the arc.

Next, the Tigers will travel to Berkeley, California, for the Cal Classic. Missouri plays Coppin State on Friday before playing again on Saturday.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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