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Missouri bests in-state rival, remains undefeated

Career nights, crashing the glass and a plethora of steals helped the Tigers secure a dub over Saint Louis.

Mizzou Tigers vs. Lindenwood Lions at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO. on Thursday, October 28, 2021. Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics
Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics

Did a Missouri Tiger basketball team just beat an in-state rival? Are they now 3-0 for the first time since 2015-2016 when Sophie Cunningham was a freshman? The answer is a hard yes.

The Tigers started off a bit slow but gained a ton of momentum in the second half to defeat St. Louis University, 69-53. Players heated up, good defense was had, and a new leading defensive rebounder has been crowned, Sarah Linthacum wore no. 21 (she’s normally no. 20) and Jayla Kelly made her season debut.

Here are a few takeaways from Wednesday night’s dub.

  1. “You gotta pick a pocket or two.” Or three, or seven.

Forcing turnovers hasn’t been an issue at all this season. They’re averaging eight steals per game. So why is this so different from the others? It wasn’t Mama Dembele forcing them. It was Lauren Hansen leading the way with three, converting four points off two of her steals. Dembele only had one. Hansen was one of the few unsung heroes, but I’ll get to that soon.

2. Will the new leading defensive rebounder per game please stand up?

Congratulations to Aijha Blackwell, who now leads the NCAA in defensive rebounds per game. In my preview, I wrote about how the Tigers needed to crash the boards and limit Flowers.

Blackwell did just that, only allowing Flowers to grab nine boards. She snagged 12 defensive rebounds, 14 total, pushing her to first with 11.3 and bumping down Flowers to fourth.

NCAA stats

As a team, Mizzou snagged 47 total rebounds and limited SLU to just 31. The double-double queen continues to shine and we’re all witnesses.

3. The third quarter was their best, a change from the normal trend.

The third quarter messiness has been a trend in the past and a hot topic in the comments so let’s get right to it. For at least a game, Tiger fans can now breathe some fresh air knowing they played a phenomenal third quarter all around. Mizzou limited SLU to 11 total points and scored 23. The defense came out with a purpose, forcing SLU to shoot out of their comfort zone and clamping down on defense.

The offense came out of the half on fire. After a slow start from three, they knocked down a few and played smart offense. Hopefully, this third quarter success will translate to the rest of the season.

4. The game of unsung heroes not named Aijha Blackwell has commenced.

Blackwell was phenomenal as usual, finishing with a stat line of 15 points and 14 rebounds. But there were two players that really stood out for the Tigers, and without them, this game might not have ended in a pretty way.

Enter Lauren Hansen and Izzy Higginbottom, members of Wednesday’s unsung hero list.

After starting the season on a cold shooting streak, Hansen came out kicking. After starting the season 1-7 from the field scoring 3 total points, she exploded for 16 points on 7-14 shooting. Her mojo is back and Tiger fans could not be happier.

Higginbottom is off to a great start to her freshman campaign, averaging double digits. The most exciting part so far was Wednesday night’s performance where she was automatic from everywhere.

Instead of just settling on threes, though, she drove for a few inside shots and had an immediate steal and layup on a SLU inbound play. She appeared out of nowhere and it hyped up the Mizzou faithful in the crowd, as well as everyone watching.

Higginbottom scored 17 points, resetting her career high of nine from the opening game, on 5-6 shooting from the field and 3-4 from three.

Next up, Mizzou returns home to face off against the Idaho State Bengals on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 pm.