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Mizzou WBB loses heartbreaker to Virginia 87-81 in Overtime

Hayley Frank’s late free throws to send the game to overtime were not enough to bring her Tigers to victory

Jaydyn Isiminger | Mizzou Athletics

The Missouri Tigers looked to bounce back from a tough loss against a decidedly less competitive Kent State squad at the Daytona Beach Classic with a victory against the Virginia Cavaliers (4-2, 0-0 ACC) in the ACC/SEC Challenge. Missouri was unable to bounce back, however, as the Cavaliers took a highly-contested game 87-81 in overtime.

SEC teams were 1-4 against the ACC entering this matchup, and the Tigers looked to steal a road victory and gain some needed optimism to continue to help them gear up for a difficult conference slate.

The plan for Mizzou seemed simple, and having Angelique Ngalakulondi gave the Tigers a clear advantage in size on the inside. Head Coach Robin Pingeton’s group made sure to abuse that size disadvantage early as Ngalakulondi hit three of her first four shots and picked up three rebounds early.

Virginia came into this game coming off a nail-biting loss to No. 7 LSU, last year’s National Champions, so to say this game would be a good measuring stick for how the Tigers will fare in conference play would be an understatement.

Ashton Judd made her impact felt in the first quarter, picking up eight of the Tigers' first 19 points as Mizzou held a commanding 19-11 lead with 2:04 left in the first quarter. Judd finished the game with 14 points on 5-12 shooting.

The Cavaliers entered the tilt with solid three-point shooting, but the Tigers clamped them down on shots and forced them to shoot 1-9 from beyond the arc in the first quarter. To the contrary, Missouri shot 3-4 from three in the first quarter and opted for more short-range looks. By the end of the first quarter, Mizzou had built up a 26-13 lead that stunned the home crowd.

“We really had good ball movement and we didn’t allow many second opportunities [in the first quarter],” Pingeton said. “We were really physical.”

Missouri played with a healthy amount of physicality, forcing Virginia turnovers whilst having a substantially lower amount of fouls. The advantage in the paint quickly went away as Ngalakulondi had to exit the game with an apparent wrist injury, forcing Pingeton to go deep into her bench for reinforcements.

Mama Dembele continued to find Ngalakulondi or Hayley Frank inside the paint, with beautiful passes over the heads of Virginia defenders and essentially passing Mizzou players open. Dembele finished the bout with seven assists.

Defensive excellence continued for the women in black and yellow in the second quarter, but the offensive prowess seen in the first quarter was absent. Missouri was held scoreless for the final 4:32 of the first half but still clung on to a 36-28 lead at the half.

It seemed as if the status quo would remain as the Tigers opened up the second half with a quick bucket from Dembele to make the game 38-28, but it was quickly followed by an 11-0 run from the Cavaliers which gave them their first lead of the night. Turnovers continued to plague Missouri as they would finish the night with a -8 in the turnover margin.

“[Virginia] really came out and threw the first punch,” Pingeton said. “They had us before that first media timeout [in the second half].”

Camryn Taylor dominated for Virginia, and proved to be the main catalyst for their offense, as she strategically drew fouls and took easy buckets on the inside en route to a 26-point performance. Taylor shot 10-19 from the field and 6-7 from the free throw line.

Both teams continued to go back and forth as Virginia held a 59-51 lead with 8:49 left in the game, creating a scenario where Mizzou fans would learn a lot about this team’s fight.

A quick 5-0 run ushered by a Frank and-one bucket brought the game back to 59-56 but the Tigers were unable to take back the lead as Virginia curbed the Tigers’ barrage with buckets of their own.

Abbey Schreacke proved to be a vital player down the stretch, as the freshman was able to make the most of her possessions and tallied up an efficient night shooting the ball. Schreacke finished with 15 points on 5-6 shooting.

“She’s leading our team in field goal percentage,” Pingeton said. “She works really hard and she gets in the gym, I thought our freshmen had ice in their veins tonight.”

Missouri held Virginia to a three-minute FG drought but it was broken by a three-pointer from Paris Clark with 2:37 left to extend Virginia’s lead to 70-64. After a broken Missouri possession it seemed like the game was over, but a steal on defense turned into a Grace Slaughter three on offense and the Tigers were right back in this game down 71-67 with just over a minute remaining.

Slaughter continued to be clutch as she sunk a contested layup to bring the game to 71-69 in favor of Virginia with just under a minute remaining in regulation.

Dembele ran the baseline as the Tigers needed a bucket down 73-69 and she found Slaughter all alone in the corner, who drained yet another corner three bringing the game back to a one-point tilt. Slaughter finished the tilt with 17 points on 6-9 shooting.

“Grace Slaughter is a young lady that wants the ball in those moments,” Pingeton said. “Just the way they were defending other players hard, she really responded.”

With the score 73-72 and Virginia in the lead with the ball, the Tigers needed a stop in order to have a chance to win this game or send it to overtime. Kymora Johnson hit a shot for the Hoos with 8.2 left in the game, meaning the Tigers would need a three-pointer to tie this one up on the final possession.

Frank attempted a three-pointer with just 4.9 left that went errant but she was fouled on the shot, meaning if she could drain three free throws, then the Tigers would be in prime position to send this game to overtime. Frank drained all three free throws, showing her veteran presence.

Clark was then stripped of the ball on the final possession for the Cavaliers, sending this game to overtime, knotted at 75-75.

Missouri’s inability to secure offensive rebounds was huge in ultimately determining the outcome of this game, as they went the entire second half without picking up a single one,. Had they been able to grab even a few, the result might have been different.

Overtime started largely with a lot of empty possessions, draining clock without much happening. Johnson hit a bucket for the Cavaliers to make the game 81-77 with 1:02 remaining and a charge was drawn against Frank (as opposed to by Frank, for once), fouling her out of the game with 42.8 seconds left and putting the Tigers in a tough spot. She would finish the game with 21 points on 6-14 shooting.

Virginia held on late with some sound free throw shooting, and sent the Tigers to 5-3 on the season in their first taste of Power 5 competition this season.

Statistically, Missouri shot 27-60 (45%) from the field while Virginia shot 32-78 (41%). Virginia shot 22.7% from three-point range while Missouri shot 36%, but the big difference was rebounding as the absence of Ngalakulondi was felt in the second half as the Hoos outrebounded the Tigers 44-41.

“Losing Angie really hurt us in the rebounding,” Pingeton said. “It also really hurt our rotation.”

UP NEXT: Missouri takes on Southeast Missouri State at home on Saturday, December 2 at 2 PM CST.