Missouri women’s basketball falls to No. 13 Kentucky

Aijha Blackwell scored 17 points in the loss to the Wildcats.

Deafening silence pierced the press room after Missouri’s (5-16, 2-6 SEC) loss to No. 13 Kentucky (17-3, 6-2 SEC).

“It’s probably been one of my tougher seasons,” an emotional coach Robin Pingeton said. “I think when you go through adversity, I think it reveals who you really are.”

With Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard, the nation’s third-leading scorer at 23.2 points per game, out with a finger injury, the Tigers hoped to pull an upset win over a ranked team for the first time this season.

But Thursday night’s 62-47 loss was the Tigers’ second in a row and sixth in SEC play this season – another disappointing loss in a challenging season.

The Tigers hung on tight in the first quarter, trailing the Wildcats 11-7. But Kentucky opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run, extending its lead to 13 with seven minutes left in the quarter.

Missouri trailed 34-17 at the half with nothing positive going its way. The Tigers missed all eight of their threes and shot 6-25 from the field, largely due to Kentucky’s smothering press.

“I thought we looked pretty undisciplined with our press offense,” Pingeton said. “We talked a lot about the importance of spacing because they can really get after you and stir you up.”

Missouri dished out two assists and turned the ball over 12 times, already nearing its season average of 16.4.

Freshman Aijha Blackwell was the lone offensive bright spot, scoring 11 points – leading all scorers on both teams – and grabbing five rebounds. No other Tiger eclipsed two points.

Missouri outscored the Wildcats 14-13 in the third quarter, but it still trailed by 16 heading into the final frame. At the end of the third, Blackwell had 14 points. The rest of the Tigers had scored 17 combined.

Though the Tigers stayed relatively close in the second half – they even outscored Kentucky 30-28 in the final two quarters – it wasn’t enough to crawl out of the hole they dug in the first.

Two other Tigers joined Blackwell in double-digit scoring – senior Amber Smith with 12 and freshman Hayley Frank with 11, both grabbing seven boards.

Missouri will look to avoid its third three-game slide against its ranked opponent in a row on Sunday, squaring off with No. 25 Arkansas (16-4, 4-3 SEC) at home.

Edited by Eli Hoff | ehoff@themaneater.com

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