Yesterday, the Missouri Tigers snapped their four game losing skid by defeating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 76-66 in CoMo. Mizzou’s energy on offense and not allowing the Bulldogs to go on an early run guided the team to the victory. LaDazhia Williams got the starting nod on her senior day and it was definitely a time to celebrate. Aijha Blackwell returned after missing the Georgia game due to a violation of team policy. Blackwell looked determined to bring Mizzou back out of the slump. Instead of giving up on the team like she could’ve, she gave it her all while coming off the bench.
I don’t want to get into the details just yet but you can check out my live game thread for a more in-depth look at what happened during the game. I promise I’ll address it down below. It was a crucial game for Mizzou to bring back hope for the fans and energy/momentum to the team.
Here are the takeaways from Mizzou’s win over Mississippi State.
1. The offense caught fire immediately.
For what the defense couldn’t achieve, the Tigers’ offense supplemented. The defensive struggles continued throughout the game much like it’s been for the four game skid. The difference between those games and this one, however, is how the offense executed early. It did take until the 8:55 mark in the first quarter for the Tigers to get on the board, but they gave touches down low to LaDazhia Williams, which helped set up Hayley Frank for a layup in the post.
I can’t even describe how refreshing that first quarter was in terms of shooting. Frank and Lauren Hansen traded three pointers until Haley Troup came into the mix with one of her own. Also, Hansen drilled a three from the Norm Stewart logo which made the crowd roar. 15 of Mizzou’s 21 points in the first quarter came courtesy of threes from those players.
The three point momentum continued immediately in the second quarter as Izzy Higginbottom hit two for the Tigers’ first six points of the second. Later on, Troup hit a second-chance three, which would be the last of the quarter.
Unfortunately, the defense allowed the Bulldogs to stay with them and MS State headed into the break with a two point 34-32 lead.
However, that first half offensive outing proved to be the catalyst for what was to come for the rest of the game.
2. The second half offensive struggles are gone.
As we’ve seen in the last four games, the second half was where Mizzou was depleted on offense. This game, though? That was not the case and gosh, am I thankful.
Williams started the second half off with a layup, but it took a while for Mizzou to score again. Right at the 5:20 mark, the offense came back to life. Frank made a second chance layup by dribbling behind-the-back on the drive and Mama Dembele drove to the basket for a layup. Blackwell finally hit her first field goal of the day, which kickstarted her offensive scoring momentum. There weren’t any threes in the third but it didn’t matter. Mizzou headed into the fourth with a 51-42 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Mizzou got their three point shooting touch back. Blackwell, Troup and Hansen hit threes and accounted for 9 of the Tigers’ 25 points. Mississippi State went on a nice run of their own, but the Tigers hit their free throws at the end, and solidified their 10 point win.
The second half wasn’t the best display of defense, but that’s not the point of these first two takeaways. The offense showed up and showed out when they weren’t able to during this slump. As a whole, the team finished with 11 made three pointers for 50% shooting from beyond the arc. Also, Mizzou is back in first place for three point field goal percentage after being replaced by Texas A&M for a little bit.
3. Mizzou won the rebound battle!
Having Blackwell back definitely gave the Tigers the edge on the boards. When the teams first met, Missouri out-rebounded Mississippi State 34-22 so that wasn’t an issue at the time. What was an issue though, was the team’s inability to score off their defensive stops. I mentioned in my keys to the game that Mizzou absolutely needed to win the rebound battle, but that was with the assumption Blackwell wasn’t going to be available.
Regardless, I still believe this takeaway is critical because of the Tigers’ performance on the boards during the slump. This game, Mizzou out-rebounded Mississippi State 37-31. The Tigers needed this rebound battle win, especially with the way the rest of their defense played.
Aijha Blackwell: 14 points, 18 rebounds and two steals for another double-double.
Hayley Frank: 19 points and two steals on 64% shooting.
Haley Troup: 18 points on 50% shooting.
Mama Dembele: Nine points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals.
Next up, Mizzou takes on Kentucky at home on February 24 at 7 pm on SECN+.