Women’s basketball uses offensive firepower to defeat Arkansas 88-54

Sophie Cunningham led Missouri with 22 points and was one of five Tigers in double figures.
Maneater File Photo

Women’s basketball kept up its offensive firepower on the way to its fourth straight win, beating Arkansas 88-54 on Sunday night.

Missouri is 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play and 17-2 overall. With No. 9 Texas and No. 7 Oregon both losing this week, the 11th-ranked Tigers have a chance to move into the top ten for the first time since 1984 when the rankings are released Monday.

Junior Sophie Cunningham led the Tigers with 22 points and three assists, but also had help from a balanced Missouri offense that had five players in double figures. Redshirt junior Lauren Aldridge and redshirt senior Kayla Michael each had 13 points, and redshirt senior Jordan Frericks and sophomore Jordan Chavis each had 12.

Michael had a second straight spot start in place of junior Cierra Porter, who also missed Thursday's win over Ole Miss due to illness. Michael opened the scoring with a triple from the top of the key 18 seconds into the game and finished with 13 points and three rebounds.

Head coach Robin Pingeton was pleased with Michael’s performance.

“I think it was probably one of the best games she’s had,” Pingeton said. “Maybe even her best game. Kayla is in a great place; she is a great teammate, she is so unselfish and is 100 percent about the front of the jersey.”

Michael had 7 first-quarter points and led Missouri to an opening quarter where the Tigers jumped out to a 28-16 lead and shot 9-for-11 from the field.

Michael and Chavis were each parts of a Tiger offense that spread the floor and used quick passing to create easy looks.

Cunningham was happy with the unselfish way the Tigers have played and praised the team’s ability to share the ball.

“This is the most fun basketball I’ve ever played,” Cunningham said. “Because no one cares who’s scoring the ball. Everyone is scoring the ball. It’s fun to play, and I’m sure it’s fun to watch, too.”

Sophomore Amber Smith, Aldridge and Frericks each had a team-high four assists for the Tigers. Missouri had its third straight game of at least 20 assists, posting 21, and shot 27 of 52 from the field.

Smith was the glue that held the Tigers together, playing a strong all-around game. Along with her four assists, she had a team-high 11 rebounds, seven points and a team-high three steals and two blocks.

Pingeton said she was happy to see Smith contribute to the team in a variety of ways.

“I think Amber is playing so well right now, so confident and tough and gritty and in the moment,” Pingeton said. “Amber is so versatile. There are so many things Amber can do that can contribute to the win column.”

Next, the Tigers will travel to Athens, Georgia, to play Georgia on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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