Michaelis saves Mizzou women’s basketball in first round of NCAA Tournament

The Tigers beat out South Florida on a last-second putback.

The Missouri bench whips after a teammate hits a free throw during the home game facing Ole Miss at Mizzou Arena on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.

Senior guard Sierra Michaelis was in the right spot at the right time.

As the game clock approached zero, with the score tied at 64, freshman guard Amber Smith attempted a leaning jumper with two defenders draped over her.

It was an air ball.

But that air ball fell perfectly into Michaelis’s hands, and she tipped in a layup with 0.6 seconds left.

With that layup, No. 6 Missouri women’s basketball edged out No. 11 South Florida 66-64 in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Friday.

Mizzou’s win marks the second consecutive year with an NCAA tournament victory for the program.

Throughout the first half of the game, the prospect of another NCAA tournament victory for the Tigers was in question as they trailed by double digits at the half. South Florida outrebounded Mizzou on both ends in the first half and shot more efficiently from the field.

But the Tigers battled back strongly in the third quarter, scoring 18 points to bring themselves back into the game. In the second half, the stats reversed; the Tigers had a 48.4 shooting percentage compared to South Florida’s 29.2. Mizzou’s rebounding firepower also exploded, as the Tigers grabbed almost twice as many rebounds than the Bulls.

By the game’s final minute, the Tigers had evened the score, setting up Michaelis’ game-winner.

Next up: Missouri remains in Tallahassee, Florida, for its second-round matchup Sunday against No. 3 seed Florida State, who beat No. 14 Western Illinois 87-66 on Friday.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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