Any game against an in-state rival is destined to be a great matchup, but what makes it even more enticing is when players from the area get to come back to play where they grew up. Such is the case for Missouri’s road game against Saint Louis University this evening. For the first time in her career, St. Louis area native Aijha Blackwell will get to play just 20 minutes from where she grew up in Berkeley, Mo..
The last time these teams faced off was in 2019 in Columbia where Blackwell had a team leading 17 points and 6 rebounds in a 83-58 Tiger win. They were supposed to play last season, but a last minute COVID cancelation resulted in the game being called off day-of.
Missouri is 23-1 all time against St. Louis. Here are a few things they need to focus on in order to change that 23 into a 24.
- Crash the boards.
One of SLU’s advantages is their height. Their leading rebounder, Brooke Flowers, is averaging a nation-leading 15.5 boards per game. Interestingly enough, Flowers and Blackwell are tied in defensive rebounds per game with 10, per NCAA stats.
In order for the Tigers to win the rebound battle, and for Aijha to take the potential lead in defensive rebounds per game, they need to contest every missed shot, box out and contain Flowers are well as humanly possible.
2. Inside defense is a must.
SLU is a team that likes to drive to the paint and take close up shots. They don’t favor the three. Their leading scorer, Ciaja Harbison, is averaging a team-leading 19.5 points per game with 40% of her shots coming from two.
As a team, the Billikens have only attempted 27 of their 118 total shots from beyond the arc. Mizzou needs to focus on closing out in the paint, not allowing uncontested inside shots, and force SLU to take the jumper.
3. “Yeah, you want a hoop, so shoot, baby shoot”
Everyone knows that Mizzou is a shooting team. When you’re playing a team with height, you go for what you do best, firing the rock from way downtown.
The vet, Haley Troup, shot lights out from three against Morgan State, knocking down three. Hayley Frank joined the party, knocking down four. The Tigers are knocking down jumpers with ease. When they can’t get good looks down low, rely on the shooters to do what they do.
Same starting lineup as the first two games; Hansen, Dembele, Troup, Blackwell, Frank.
- Hansen starts off with a jumper from the free throw line.
- Turnovers, missed shots, and SLU scoring on the break leads to a Mizzou time out at 6:55.
- Blackwell hits a three out of the time out to end the 6-0 SLU run.
- Blackwell hits a corner three over Flowers.
- Hansen forces a turnover and goes coast-to-coast for a layup for a 9-8 lead.
- Hansen dances a bit and drains a step-back three, 13-8 Mizzou.
- Williams goes under for her first points. SLU calls a timeout. 11-0 run for Mizzou, leading 15-8.
- Higginbottom steals and converts immediately after a SLU defensive rebound.
- Mizzou leads SLU 17-11.
- Takeaways: Some sloppy shots and turnovers for the Tigers. They were able to come up in big moments and force turnovers and convert. They are currently winning the rebound battle 13-10 and are forcing SLU to take outside shots.
- Frank hits her first shot, a corner three, with a hand in her face.
- Williams posts up hits a baby hook over Sevval Gul. Note: SLU has Flowers covering Blackwell instead of Williams.
- Blackwell steals the ball from Gul and goes coast-to-coast for the layup. 28-17 Mizzou.
- 31-19 Mizzou after Blackwell’s three. She has 12 points and 5 rebounds.
- Williams blocks McNeal’s shot and forces a shot clock violation.
- Mizzou leads SLU 33-24 at the half.
- Takeaways: Mizzou’s defense looked a lot better for majority of the quarter. It lightened up a bit at the end but not enough to force a major SLU comeback. Blackwell is on fire and on double-double alert with 14 points and 6 rebounds. The Tigers have protected the ball more and didn’t take many bad shots.
- Frank starts off the scoring for Mizzou with a three from the right wing.
- Troup drives and dumps to Frank for a wide open layup. Mizzou leads 37-26.
- Dembele gets her first steal of the game and Hansen comes back with a steal of her own and draws a foul.
- Dembele drives, spins and dishes to Frank who nails a corner three.
- Hansen gets her third steal of the night and goes coast-to-coast for a layup with no one there to stop her, forcing a SLU time out. Mizzou leads 43-28.
- Out of the timeout, Hansen makes a three that bounces in and out.
- Blackwell joins the charge party, forcing another SLU timeout. Mizzou leads 46-28 on a 14-2 run.
- Smith finds a cutting Hansen for the layup. Great recognition from Smith.
- Higginbottom nails her first three of the night from the left wing. Mizzou is now 6-18 from three.
- Higginbottom is on fire, hitting a free throw line jumper. Mizzou up 53-33.
- Blackwell grabs the defensive rebound, goes coast-to-coast and scoops a layup. Blackwell has a double-double through three; 15 points and 12 rebounds.
- Mizzou leads SLU 55-35 at the end of the 3rd.
- Takeaways: Mizzou has found their shooting stroke. They’ve played great defense and have converted on SLU turnovers. They outscored the Billikens 23-11. The offense is looking unstoppable. The 3rd quarter blues aren’t affecting the Tigers tonight.
- Frank blocks Martinez’s shot and forces a jump ball that goes back to the Tigers.
- After barely evading a violation, Mizzou gets the ball across the court, Hansen misses a three, Troup grabs a board and Higginbottom promptly drains a three from the corner. Higginbottom has a career high 12 points.
- Hansen steps back and hits a three. Mizzou up 64-46.
- Another game, another charge drawn by Frank.
- Sarah (who is wearing no. 21 for some reason) and Micah Linthacum get some late game minutes.
- Jayla Kelly has made her season debut for Mizzou with a bit over a minute left.
- Izzy drains a three with a bit over 20 seconds left off a Kelly screen.
- Mizzou is now 3-0, defeating SLU 69-53.
- Takeaways: Nothing was stopping Mizzou this quarter. Great offense, great defense. Higginbottom showed out in the 4th quarter and finished with a career high 17 points. Their interior defense spoiled SLU’s inside shooting specialty and forced them to shoot threes.