Missouri falls in rematch with Tennessee

The Tigers were out-rebounded 41-30 on Sunday evening and only hit six 3s in its loss to the Lady Vols.

With 0.3 seconds left in the game, Missouri inbounded the ball to junior Jordan Chavis who threw up a shot from half court for the win and made it, but the shot came too late. The buzzer had sounded and the game was over.

Missouri (19-8, 8-5) fell to Tennessee (17-6, 6-6) 62-60 on Sunday. It was a much anticipated rematch, with the first game resulting in a historic win for Missouri: its first win against a top-10 ranked opponent on the road in program history.

While the annual “Pink Out Game” did bring in the largest crowd at Mizzou Arena this season at 8,559, it was the first time since 2014 the Tigers lost the charity game.

Missouri’s main weakness of being undersized was spotlighted throughout the whole game. Tennessee won the rebounding battle 41-30 and had 17 offensive rebounds. The Lady Volunteers scored 22 second chance points compared to just nine for Missouri.

“It’s not just us, they [out-rebound] everybody,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “They are really good at going to the offensive boards.”

On the other hand, Missouri’s main strength was almost nonexistent. It only made six 3s, as Tennesse made an effort after Missouri made 10 3s in the last contest.

“You’re not going to win many games if you give a team 10 3s,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “We knew they were going to shoot them, but our defense is so much better than it was last time we faced them.”

Tennessee held a 22-21 advantage at the end of the first frame. While the second quarter wasn’t as high scoring, it was still close as Missouri gained a 31-30 halftime lead. The scoring was spread out on both sides as neither team had a player in double figures.

Missouri senior Sophie Cunningham had only 7 points at the break, and her struggles continued throughout the game. She totaled 13 points on 5-15 shooting, only making one 3-pointer.

“I struggled from the 3-point line,” Cunningham said. “If I’m not making my 3s I’m going to drive, but we have a lot of other threats.”

Two of those other threats, senior Cierra Porter and junior Amber Smith, stepped up by scoring 13 and 14 points, respectively. Porter shot 6-7 from the field, and Smith also totaled four rebounds.

Each team scored 18 points in the third quarter, leaving Missouri with a one point lead heading into the final quarter.

Tennessee sophomore Rennia Davis made two free throws with 52 seconds to play for the final points of the game. On Missouri’s second to last possession, freshman Akira Levy missed a triple for a chance at the game winner. Following the play, Porter had a word with the freshman.

“Anybody would be visibly frustrated after that,” Porter said. “I was just trying to keep her up and remind her she’s good.”

The ensuing possession saw an offensive foul on Tennessee giving Missouri the ball again. That possession saw the Chavis almost game-winner.

“I believe I said that you have to catch and shoot,” Pingeton said. “At that point, you’re throwing up a hail mary anyways.”

Missouri has an off week before it travels to Auburn next Sunday, Feb 24. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. CST.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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