The Missouri Tigers raced to an 82-52 win over the Saint Louis Billikens (2-8) in a tilt that proved how truly important it is to start off a game on the right foot.
Consistency is key in basketball, and Hayley Frank happens to be the living embodiment of that. Tonight was no different, as the Tigers kicked off their offensive tab with two Frank three-pointers, rolling to an early 22-14 first quarter lead. Frank finished the game shooting 50% with 14 points, her sixth game of the season tallying double-digits.
My colleague Lauren Rosenberg’s preview emphasized the importance of locking down on Saint Louis’ two stars, Brooke Flowers and Kyla McMakin, and the Tigers did just that. Flowers and McMakin combined for a measly nine points in the first three quarters, shooting just 2-12 from the field in that timespan, and finished the game shooting a combined 4-16 from the field.
It became apparent tonight was going to be a good night for the Tigers’ shooting from beyond the arc when they finished the first half shooting an incredible 61.5% from three-point range.
Point guard Mama Dembele has been sporting some new paraphernalia since returning from surgery for the broken nose she suffered against Bradley, and it has suited her quite well. Returning to the starting line up tonight, the mask seemingly enhanced Mama’s ability to engineer the offense. She picked up nine points and five assists on the night and was exceptional in the absence of backup point guard Katlyn Gilbert, who reportedly suffered a calf injury in the Tigers’ game against Wake Forest.
“I thought Mama did a tremendous job pushing the ball in transition,” Head Coach Robin Pingeton said post-game. “Her game of running the ship was huge for us tonight.”
Defensively, the Tigers excelled in the second quarter, only allowing five points to come from the Billikens’ tab, the lowest total allowed in a single quarter all season. Head Coach Robin Pingeton was pleased with her team’s performance postgame.
Lauren Hansen has a reputation as a volume shooter, and her shots were falling at a high volume tonight. She shot 9-16 and 6-11 from three-point land, accumulating a season-high 24 points on the night.
“Mama did a great job of finding me in transition,” Hansen said. “Most of [my performance tonight] came from finding open looks and knocking the shots down.”
Mizzou also had good contributions from the Linthacum sisters, who combined to shoot 4-5 from the field and tallied eight points.
Additionally, Jayla Kelly showed out, shooting 3 of 6 from the field and knocking down 5 of 7 from the free throw line, totaling 11 points. However, Kelly picked up an injury towards the middle stages of the fourth quarter and was seen limping off the court unable to put any weight on her right leg.
Shots were falling all around for the Tigers tonight as they posted up an impressive 51.9% from three-point range, their highest of the season. They also shot 47.6% from the field whilst only allowing the Billikens to shoot 34.5%, showing some much needed defensive intensity after allowing 73 points against no. 9 Virginia Tech.
Additionally, every single available player on the Tigers’ roster picked up points on the night, which pleased Coach Pingeton.
“We need absolutely everybody,” Pingeton said. “When everyone anticipates they are going to get some sort of [playing] time, they are engaged and locked in.”
The game was another solid outing for the Tigers in the rebounding department as well, as they outrebounded the Billikens 40-33. The difference was largely made by the team as a whole, as no player had less than two rebounds and no player eclipsed more than five.
An area of concern for the Tigers continues to be their turnovers. They did well in The Bahamas against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, but tonight they had 17 and the team was vocal about how that issue needs to be fixed as the season goes on.
“We definitely need to take care of the ball better,” Hansen said. “Most of that comes from attention to detail.”
With the win, the Tigers are now 7-1 before they head on the road to Tempe, Arizona for the Arizona State Classic. As of right now, any win in the non-conference is huge for the Tigers, as they are currently listed as the first team out in ESPN’s latest Women’s Basketball Bracketology.
UP NEXT: Missouri will play the UMass Minutewomen on Saturday, December 3rd at 5:00p.m. CST.