Late theatrics lead Mizzou women’s basketball to a win over Wright State
Two free throws from Sophie Cunningham with 1.4 seconds left in the game lifted the Tigers over the Raiders.
Nov. 17, 2017
With the clock winding down on the final second of play, Wright State forward Nia Sumpter put up a three-point shot. It missed wide right, sealing an 82-80 victory for the Missouri Tigers women’s basketball team Thursday night at Mizzou Arena.
The missed shot by Sumpter punctuated a 15-5 run by the Tigers to end the game.
Missouri was led by a 26-point performance from starting forward Jordan Frericks, who also had eight rebounds for Mizzou. Sophie Cunningham tacked on 19 and Cierra Porter had a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Missouri head coach Robin Pingeton was impressed with sophomore guard Jordan Chavis, who had 12 points off the bench and shot 4 of 6 behind the three-point line.
“She has had a great start of the season for us in all three games,” Pingeton said. “She hit a big three in transition, and that’s a tough shot, to be willing as a sophomore to take that kind of shot in a key situation. She continues to do really good things for us.”
The Tigers trailed for 17:14 in the second half, but after a Lauren Aldridge putback layup with 44 seconds left in the game, Mizzou took the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter, 80-78.
Frericks, who missed the initial shot which lead to Aldridge’s putback, saw the moment as a real turning point in the game.
“I think it was a good moment for our team,” Frericks said. “I’m just so thankful that Lauren Aldridge was there behind me. It was a good turning moment for our team.”
After a score from Wright State guard Symone Simmons, Missouri took possession with 28 seconds left and had the final shot of regulation. With the ball at the elbow, Cunningham put up a shot and drew the foul for the Tigers, heading to the line with 1.4 seconds left.
Cunningham felt sure as she stepped up to the free throw line.
“I was pretty confident in myself,” Cunningham said about heading to the line. “I was confident that I was going to knock one down for the team.”
Cunningham sunk both free throws, giving Mizzou the lead and the eventual win.
Once Cunningham stepped up to the line, Wright State head coach Katrina Merriweather had no doubt she would put the Tigers in front.
“I knew that she was gonna make them,” Merriweather said. “She’s a great player. That’s what really good players do.”
The win for the Tigers did not come without a glaring weakness. Late defensive rotations allowed Wright State to make six first-half three-pointers, one of which was a half-court shot made by guard Emily Vogelpohl at the halftime buzzer to give the Raiders a seven-point lead.
Both teams had similar first halves from the field, with Mizzou shooting 40.7 percent and Wright State 40.6 percent. The Tigers, however, were 57.1 percent from the line in the first half, compared to WSU’s perfect 100 percent from the line. Mizzou also gave up 14 points off turnovers in the first half, opposed to only seven in the second half.
Late in the second half, Pingeton told her team to focus on the game’s final minutes. Pingeton was pleased with how the team handled late-game defensive adjustments.
“We just kept talking about how it doesn’t matter how the first 30 minutes were, but that the next six minutes were the most important six minutes we were going to play,” Pingeton said. “We made an adjustment defensively. We tried to corral Chelsea a little bit. The girls made great adjustments.”
The Raiders saw a phenomenal performance from senior guard Chelsea Welch, who had 36 points — her highest point total of the season — and six assists on 40 minutes for Wright State.
“[Welch] does it every night,” Merriweather said. “That was amazing to do it against Missouri. She’s extremely talented and very versatile.”
Next up, Mizzou will face the Missouri State Bears at 2 p.m. in Springfield, Missouri, on Nov. 19.
Edited by Eli Lederman | firstname.lastname@example.org