Mizzou women unable to hold on, suffer first loss of the season

Story by Darren Hellwege
Photos by Derek Klein

The disappointment was obvious in the face of players, in the words of coach Robin Pingeton, and in the deflated crowd of more than 1,500 fans who left Mizzou Arena dejected after the Missouri women’s basketball team lost their first game of the season. The Tigers led much of the way before giving up a late run to lose to Northwestern 74-70 Saturday.

The Tigers led by as many as eight in the first half and played very well at times. But turnovers threw away too many possessions and the offense sputtered in the end. After holding a lead of 61-55 with less than four minutes left, the Tigers gave up 11 points in a row. They fought to stay close, but in the closing moments the Wildcats’ Dannielle Diamant made eight straight free throws to seal it for Northwestern. The Wildcats improved to 6-1 on the year, while Mizzou is now 5-1.

“Man, there’s a lot of possessions where we looked really good, but some where we just lacked discipline,” Pingeton said after the loss. “We never got Mo (Morgan Eye) in rhythm and didn’t get scoring from Kyley (Simmons).” Eye, who had averaged 9.6 points a game, didn’t score and only took three shots on the day.

The Tigers were led in scoring by BreAnna Brock, who poured in 23 on 9-12 shooting. Flores had 20 and Liene Priede added 17. Christine Flores added four blocks and is now needs just three to move into a tie for second place on the team’s all time career blocks list. Flores had six rebounds, as did Sydney Crafton, who came off the bench to give 25 minutes.

Kendall Hackney led the Wildcats with 20, followed by 18 from Diamant. Freshman Morgan Jones had 11. Jones, one of the top recruits in the nation out of high school, chose to attend Northwestern after giving strong consideration to Missouri and many sources say she nearly signed with the Tigers before choosing to join her sister, Tailor, at Northwestern. Northwestern officials would not make her available for comment after the game.

Hackney was able to contribute more to her team’s win because she avoided fouling out after picking up her fourth foul with about five minutes left. “I don’t think she breathed on anyone in those last five,” joked Northwestern coach Joe McKeown.

The team now prepares for a match up with Eastern Illinois Wednesday evening at Mizzou Arena. Will they let the disappointment of this loss carry over? Probably not. Liene Priede said after the game, “What’s done is done. I’m not going to live in the past.”

One big positive on the day was the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. Although the announced attendance was 1,578, there was a noticeable boost in their volume and effect on the game, including larger than usual student attendance.

“That was the loudest fifteen hundred people I’ve ever heard, and that’s in 30 years of coaching,” McKeown said.

Flores said after the game that the club has been reaching out to student organizations like the ZouCrew, a regular part of the crowd at men’s basketball games for years.

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