Lauren Hansen shot 18-31 (58%) in two games scoring 46 points to lead the Missouri Tigers to an undefeated slate in the Arizona State Classic in Tempe. The Tigers started the two-game tournament with a 71-66 win over the UMass Minutewomen, and ended it with a 71-60 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Before I delve into the games itself, I want to call out something that I thought was just a complete farce to Women’s Basketball in itself. All season, the reported game time of the UMass game was 5 PM CST and the game was to be televised on ESPN+. Then, the game time was changed to an hour earlier on the day of the game. However, it gets worse, as they also changed the stream from ESPN+ to a local stream on the Arizona State website, making it nearly impossible to watch. I have never seen such a thing in my life watching sports, and I thought I should call it out because something like this I can never see happening for a men’s basketball game.
Now, for the games themselves. Hansen and Hayley Frank proved to be the Tigers’ most consistent players throughout the road trip to Tempe, and the Tigers looked to them to claw themselves out of any deficit they found themselves in.
Missouri was especially effective at shooting from three-point range in the UMass game, carrying on the momentum they built in their game against Saint Louis, shooting 46.9% from beyond the arc. Oddly enough, their three-point shooting didn’t carry over to today’s game though, as as they shot a poor 6-26 (23.1%) on the exact same court.
Star center Jayla Kelly was absent from both games in the classic, as she is reportedly battling an ankle injury she suffered in the Saint Louis tilt. They said on the radio that she could have played if needed, so thankfully she was able to rest the injury a bit.
Speaking of players that have returned from injury, Mama Dembele once again showed her ability to distribute the ball as she tallied a team-high seven assists in the UMass game and another team-high six assists in the Arizona State game.
The story of the Arizona State game was the foul line, and the amount of free throws the Tigers ended up leaking. The Sun Devils shot a season-high 31 free throws in the matchup, making 22 of them, which allowed them to stay close in the game despite shooting an abysmal 29.1% from the field. On the contrary, the Tigers shot around 49% from the field but just didn’t have the same luck getting to the line as the Sun Devils, only getting to the line 8 times the entire game.
The Sara(h)s, Sara-Rose Smith and Sarah Linthacum, had to step up big to accommodate for the loss of Kelly in the rebounds column, and they did just that, totaling 33 rebounds over two games. Linthacum’s performance on Saturday, in particular, was rewarded with a start over the other Sara (Rose) in Sunday’s game. The Tigers outrebounded both the Minutewomen and the Sun Devils in the two tilts, by a total of 84-67.
The Tigers’ win against the Sun Devils marks their second win over a power conference opponent (they beat Wake Forest in The Bahamas), moving them to 2-1 against power conference opponents so far. Additionally, as of right now, the record of each of Missouri’s opponents this season thus far is 42-39, so their schedule hasn’t exactly been populated with “easy” opponents. If you recall, Missouri’s only loss this season is to no. 9 ranked Virginia Tech, who has begun their season 8-0.
The wins move the Tigers to an impressive 9-1. Up next is a three-game home slate to end the non-con against Omaha, Jackson State and Illinois, respectively. before they tip-off SEC play at home against the Kentucky Wildcats on December 29th.
Tune in to watch Missouri play Omaha on Friday, December 9th, at 11:30 AM CST.