Missouri falls 78-73 to Northern Iowa

The Tigers struggled out of the gate against the Panthers.

The nonconference portion of the Missouri women’s basketball schedule has been far from non-competitive so far this season.

The Tigers (1-2, 0-0 SEC) lost a close game at home once again, this time by a score of 78-73 to Northern Iowa (3-0, 0-0 Missouri Valley) on Wednesday.

“We continue to struggle with our communication, transition defense, getting matched up,” coach Robin Pingeton said. “[We] give up too many offensive boards. It’s more grittiness than anything.”

Pingeton opted to start the same five players as Missouri’s last game: junior Elle Brown, senior Jordan Roundtree, senior Amber Smith, senior Jordan Chavis and redshirt senior Hannah Schuchts.

The Panthers were no pushovers in the first quarter, taking the lead on a 7-0 scoring run through the early play of guard Kam Finley. The Tigers struggled defensively, allowing several easy cuts to the rim and wide-open shots.

The slow start felt unfortunately familiar for Smith.

“I don’t know if it’s feeling out [the game] or just not coming out with the right intensity,” she said. “We’ve got to get it figured out.”

The second quarter nearly got out of hand for Missouri. A four-minute scoring drought allowed the Panthers to score nine unanswered points, but the Tigers clawed back. Roundtree drained back-to-back threes to cut the deficit and Missouri entered the half down by three points.

The scoring droughts were less pronounced for the Tigers in the third quarter, but they once again relied on back-to-back three-pointers to keep the game close, this time from Chavis.

Embroiled in another close fourth quarter, Missouri’s offense hit a final lapse that confirmed defeat. The Tigers took a one-point lead on a layup from Smith with about six minutes to go in the game, but only made one field goal the rest of the way.

The lack of an offensive push at times was matched by a missing defensive backbone.

“There’s got to be a sense of pride on the defensive end,” Pingeton said. “It’s a pride issue right now.”

The Tigers now begin a road trip that could be a necessary change of pace.

“Maybe a shake-up right now is not bad,” Pingeton said. “Maybe going on the road and getting away and really having to rely on each other in that locker room and on that court, maybe that will be a good stepping stone for us.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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