Crafton's Clutch Play Pushes Tigers Past Florida
COLUMBIA -- With the game tied at 64 and 1:30 remaining, senior leader Sydney Crafton scored four straight points to put Mizzou (14-8, 3-5) ahead for good as the Tigers knocked off the Florida Gators (13-9) on Thursday (Jan. 31) night by a 69-64 final. The win for the Tigers marked the 40th victory for coach Robin Pingeton. Both teams battled in the tightly contested game, making huge runs as the squads fought for control until the final buzzer. Florida used a 14-0 run to end the first half with a two-point lead, and Missouri went on a 14-0 run in the second half to regain the upper hand in the contest.
The Tigers were led by freshman guard Lianna Doty, who had 11 points, ten rebounds and seven assists in the contest. Center Liz Smith also had a huge day with 15 points and six boards, including going 5-for-6 from the line. Again, the teamshowed depth on the offensive end with seven of the 10 players who checked in for Mizzou registering points, and six players with eight points or more. The victory for the Tigers gives Mizzou its most wins since the 2006-07 season, when the team totaled 17 victories.
Mizzou took control of the game early, as Liene Priede nailed a layup on a backdoor feed from Bri Kulas and Smith connected on a layup for an early 4-2 lead. Kyley Simmons nailed a three off a feed from Doty to build the lead to 7-3 at the firstmedia timeout. Morgan Eye entered the game after the break and made two threes with a Crafton free throw in between, keeping the Gators down three at 14-11.
The Tigers then went on an 8-2 run, fueled by another Eye three and layups by Smith and Kulas to take a 22-13 lead. The Gators responded by going on a 7-1 run, narrowing the Mizzou lead to just three points before the Tigers counted with a9-0 run behind a Crafton layup, an Eye trey, and four straight Doty points to build the lead to 12 at the 4:42 mark.
The Gators battled back again, going on a 12-0 run, tying the game at 32 with less than a minute left in the half. A running jump shot for the visiting team with two seconds left gave Florida the lead, capping a 14-0 run to end the first half andgiving the Gators a 34-32 lead heading into the locker room.
Both teams battled to start the second half, trading scores to the first TV timeout with the Gators clinging to a 42-39 lead, as the Tigers took advantage of two scores from Smith and a Simmons layup. Florida started to build a cushionafter the break, building the lead to seven at 48-41, with only Simmons connecting for the Tigers before Mizzou took a timeout at the 12:08 mark. Doty broke the scoreless drought by connecting from deep, cutting the deficit to 48-44 at theunder-12 media timeout.
After a Gator free throw, four straight points by Smith brought the Tigers back within one, and a Doty three from the corner put Mizzou back on top at 51-49. Five straight Kulas points gave Mizzou a seven-point lead, and Crafton connected on ajumper to put the Tigers ahead 58-49, forcing a Florida timeout. The Gators hit a three after the break, ending a 14-0 Missouri run and starting a 7-0 Florida run to bring the visitors back within three. Crafton ended the threat, though, with an"and-one" layup to put the Tigers back ahead 61-55 with less than four minutes remaining.
The Gators were equal to the task, though, and went on a 9-3 run to tie the game at 64 with 1:30 remaining. The Tigers broke the tie with a gorgeous backdoor cut by Crafton for an easy layup, then she made a jumper in the lane for afour-point lead with 35.5 seconds left. Doty split a pair of free throws to put the Tigers up five.
Mizzou will next take on Tennessee on Sunday (Feb. 3) at home at 1 PM.