Crafton, Eye Carry Tigers to Win
COLUMBIA -- With a big lead dwindling late in the first half, sophomore sharpshooter Morgan Eye nailed two threes in less than a minute to give the Missouri Tigers (5-2) some breathing room as the team coasted to a 80-51 win over Southeast Missouri on Thursday (Nov. 29) night. The threes in the first half accounted for a part of her season-high five three-point field goals, and her 15 points added to Sydney Crafton's career-high 29 points played a huge role in keeping Mizzou undefeated at home this season.
Crafton scored first, putting Missouri ahead 2-0 after two minutes of game action. Bri Kulas then added on with a layup, and Lianna Doty's jumper gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead. Crafton nailed another shot for an eight-point lead, and then made a layup to make the score 10-0. Kulas converted an inbounds play for another easy bucket, and Eye drained a three to put Missouri ahead 15-0 at the 14-minute mark. SEMO ended the Mizzou run with a moving jumper to cut the lead to 13, but Crafton answered with a three to make the score 18-2 at the under-12 timeout.
After the break, the Redhawks opened scoring with a 12-2 run to cut the deficit to six, but a Crafton layup ended the run to put the Tigers up 22-14 at the under-8 timeout. Again it was SEMO opening the scoring after play resumed, with the Redhawks scoring the first six points, and Eye responded with a three to put the Tigers up by five before SEMO nailed a three on the other end to keep the deficit to two.
Liz Smith then went to work on the blocks, making a layup to give Mizzou some separation with a four-point lead, and Eye connected on two straight threes to put the Tigers up by 10, 33-23. The Redhawks made a three with just over 20 seconds remaining in the half, but Crafton answered with a three of her own to beat the buzzer and put Missouri up 36-26 at the half.
Liene Priede scored first in the second half to give Mizzou a 12-point lead, but SEMO quickly responded with a three. Kulas then hit a tough turnaround shot in the paint to lift the Tigers to a double-digit lead, Crafton added on with two layups to make the score 44-29, the second coming after she recorded a monster block on the defensive end. Kulas tacked on a three to give the Tigers a 47-31 lead at the 14:25 mark, and Priede's aggressive drive to the hoop gave the Tigers two more points on an easy layup. Eye then made her fifth three of the game, putting the Tigers up 52-31 and forcing a Redhawks timeout.
Craton converted on a layup when play resumed, and SEMO answered with a bucket of their own to end the run, then added two free throws to reduce the deficit to 19. Crafton responded with a layup off an inbounds play, though, and then she nailed the ensuing free throw for a 57-35 lead, but a SEMO jumper quickly made the score 57-37. After a Crafton free throw, she traded buckets with the Redhawks to hold the lead at 20, Maddie Stock got on the board with a three from the wing to boost the Mizzou advantage to 63-40, and then hit another on the team's next possession for a 26-point lead. Kulas then nailed a three to force a SEMO timeout as Missouri was ahead 69-40 with seven minutes left.
The teams traded buckets after the under-8 timeout with Stock making her third three, as the Tigers held SEMO to a 74-46 deficit at the final media timeout. Stock connected on another three after the break, putting the Tigers ahead 77-46, and SEMO answered with four straight free throws. Darian Saunders got on the board with 1:09 left as she split a pair of free throws to put Mizzou ahead 78-50. The Redhawks connected on a free throw on the other end, and Bree Fowler sunk a layup to put Mizzou on top 80-51.
The Tigers next play Tennessee-Martin on Monday, December 3 at home at 7:00 PM.