Tigers Scorch Missouri State Bears
COLUMBIA -- Morgan Eye made five threes for the third straight game, leading to a 91-77 win over in-state rival Missouri State on Thursday (Dec. 6) night at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers fell behind by double digits early on, but through a strong team effort that included five players in double-digits on the scoreboard, Mizzou was able to cruise late to their third win in the "Battle for Missouri." Senior Sydney Crafton hit a milestone in the home win, registering her 500th career point and finishing the game with 506 in her time with the Tigers.
Missouri put the clamps down defensively in the second half, holding their counterparts to just 28 points after surrendering 49 in the first 20 minutes. The team-oriented offense also showed up on the stat sheet with eight players registering points and five players tallying multiple assists. Bri Kulas added 17 points to her impressive early-season play, and Liz Smith scored a career-high 14 points in the game as well, as the Tigers went over 90 points as a team for the first time since a win over Wright State last November.
Missouri State got off to a quick start, taking a 10-3 lead in the first two minutes, with Lianna Doty's three the only Mizzou points. Two Liene Priede free throws cut into the Bears lead, but MSU answered with five straight points, forcing Mizzou to take a timeout. Doty responded after the stoppage in play with an easy put-back layup to cut the deficit back to eight at the first media timeout.
Mizzou went on a run after the break, tying the game at 17 after three Morgan Eye threes and a free throw by Doty. The Bears responded with a quick 6-1 run with a three-pointer after a three-point play. Mizzou then went on a 11-2 run, with Eye and Kulas adding five and six points, respectively, to give the Tigers a 29-25 lead. After the Bears tied the game at 29, Bree Fowler squared up for a three at the top of the arc, putting the Tigers back in front, and the teams traded layups with Smith cashing in for the Tigers.
With the Tigers ahead 36-33, Mizzou scored five straight behind Eye and Crafton, but Missouri State went on a 7-0 run of their own to cut the lead to 41-40. Doty drained a three to put the Tigers up four, and a Crafton three proved to be the difference as the teams went into the locker room with Missouri clinging to a 51-49 lead.
Smith scored first in the second half, putting Mizzou up four with a layup, and Kyley Simmons' three added to the lead. Missouri State finally scored on the Tigers with a free throw at 15:16 for their first second-half point, starting a 7-3 run that trimmed the Tigers' lead to three at 59-56 before seven unanswered points for Mizzou, all from Smith and Kulas.
Kulas and Smith both added layups after MSU cut the lead to eight, and a Kulas jumper and another Smith layup answered a MSU three to keep Missouri up by 15. Crafton and Doty both got easy layups after a Bears three-point play, and another Crafton free throw put the Tigers ahead by 18. Doty and Eye both got layups to put the Tigers ahead 85-63 before a MSU free throw.
With the score 88-71, Priede converted a three-point play to put the Tigers over the 90-point mark. Missouri State scored six points in the final minute, finishing the game at 91-77.
Missouri will take on Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Saturday (Dec. 8) at 5:30, immediately following a men's hoops contest.
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