Missouri uses high percentage at the free throw line to down the Red Wolves

Cierra Porter joined the 1,000 career point club from the charity stripe in her first game back for the Tigers.

Cierra Porter stepped to the charity stripe on Sunday afternoon barely out of medical retirement and looking to convert two free throws.

She stepped away from it the 36th member of 1,000 career points club for Missouri.

The Missouri Tigers (11-3, 0-0) closed out the nonconference portion of their schedule with a 70-50 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves (5-6, 0-0). Porter played for just 11 minutes of the win, totaling 4 points, two rebounds and two steals.

While the final score shows an easy Tiger win, it was clear Missouri had some kinks to work out after a nine day break in between games.

Missouri handed over 8 points to the Red Wolves on 12 turnovers in the first half, and only shot 39 percent from the field, converting one attempt from behind the three-point arc. The only thing keeping Missouri in the game was its free throw shooting. It shot 87 percent from the charity stripe in the first half.

Senior Sophie Cunningham found herself at the line a lot, making 12 of 14 free throws. She ended the half with 16 points while only making two field goals. The only other Tiger that was close to her in scoring was junior Jordan Roundtree with 7 points.

The Tigers ended the half on an 8-0 scoring run, capped off by an acrobatic layup by freshman Akira Levy. It was the second time in as many games the Tigers used a scoring run and a layup by Levy to end a half.

Missouri still only held a 33-30 lead heading into the locker room, largely due to poor shooting from Arkansas State. The Red Wolves shot just 39 percent from the field and 35 percent from the free throw line.

Those low shooting numbers would not improve for the Red Wolves in the second half, while Missouri’s numbers would stay steady.

The Red Wolves went 3-14 from the free throw line in the second, compared to a 9-10 mark put up by the Tigers. Missouri used a 37-point half to grow its lead to as much as 22. No Tiger scored more than 6 points, but a total of 11 different Tigers put the ball in the basket in the half.

The only momentary scare of the game came when Cunningham exited at the 5:43 mark of the third quarter with an apparent leg injury. For the third time this season, she left the game, was looked at by the trainer and returned to the court with a smile.

All three injuries have been seemingly unrelated. Cunningham has said after each injury that it isn’t anything to worry about and nothing has ever been officially diagnosed by the team.

Cunningham scored a game-high 20 points, with 16 points coming from the charity stripe alone. While no other Tiger scored double digits, Roundtree and junior Amber Smith each had 9 points. Smith also tallied 10 rebounds, a career-high five blocks and two steals.

The Tigers won the rebounding battle 43-25. With Porter back, Missouri will look to continue this trend against SEC opponents.

Missouri opens up SEC play on Thursday, Jan. 3 against Mississippi. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST at Mizzou Arena.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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