Fourth quarter finally goes Missouri’s way in comeback win over Texas A&M

A much-needed change in momentum enabled the Tigers to halt the Aggies’ seven-game win streak.
Designed by Corey Hadfield

With 10 minutes left at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers found themselves in a hole.

No. 18 Texas A&M held a 52-45 lead after outscoring Missouri 20-11 in the third quarter, and given Missouri’s recent fourth quarter history, it was fair to expect the Tigers to wilt down the stretch rather than mount a comeback.

Thursday night was different. Missouri (17-7, 6-4 SEC) took control of the final regulation period to force overtime and ultimately defeat the red-hot Aggies (18-5, 7-3), 70-65.

Many of the Tigers’ fourth quarter performances in the past month have left much to be desired. A late collapse against Florida handed Missouri its first SEC loss on Jan. 13. The Tigers couldn’t build a comeback at Kentucky on Jan. 24. And earlier this week, Mizzou faltered down the stretch in a crushing loss at LSU.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “There’s been some tough lessons, and it’s gut-wrenching to go back and watch film and see breakdowns.”

With the opportunity to take down a ranked opponent and rejuvenate the season after a run of four losses in six games, Missouri put together a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter, bookended by 3-pointers from junior Amber Smith and senior Lauren Aldridge.

The crowd of 4,513 could feel the tide turning as Texas A&M’s offense faltered in response to the Tigers’ hot streak. Aggie sophomore Chennedy Carter, who had scored a dominating 28 points in the first three quarters, suddenly fell silent despite continuing to take plenty of shots.

Carter would score only 1 point through both the fourth quarter and overtime, and her team struggled to cope with the loss of her production.

“We didn’t change much,” Missouri junior Jordan Roundtree said of the team’s defensive approach against Carter. “She hit some tough shots [earlier in the game] that she didn’t necessarily hit all the way down the stretch, and that was just the difference.”

As time wound down with the score knotted at 61, Missouri had a chance to punctuate the comeback with a last-second winning basket. Smith received the ball in the paint with seconds remaining but lost possession to Carter, who quickly found teammate Kayla Wells down the court. Mizzou Arena held its breath as Wells missed a rushed layup at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.

“I said, ‘Thank you, Lord,’” Smith recalled.

The Tigers did not make the same mistake again in the extra period, playing five minutes of turnover-free ball as they pulled ahead to seal the victory. An early 3-pointer from Aldridge opened the overtime scoring and gave Mizzou a lead it never relinquished.

“I really liked our resiliency,” Pingeton said. “I didn’t think we h ung our heads, I didn’t think we got deflated… I think we continued to pour into each other and encourage each other and receive that [encouragement].”

With all the recent fourth quarter woes the Tigers have had, Thursday’s win has to have been a welcome change. It is no secret that Missouri sees itself as a team capable of a strong postseason run, but in order to achieve that, more late-game performances like Thursday’s will be needed.

“Honestly, this is the best we’ve been since the summer,” senior Sophie Cunningham said. “Right now our team is really in a good spot, and I think it showed tonight.”

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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