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Mizzou WBB takes down Georgia for second straight SEC win

The Tigers kept the positive momentum rolling, as they dominated the Bulldogs to move to 11-7 on the season.

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

After Mizzou women’s basketball picked up a thrilling victory over then-no. 24 Vanderbilt in Nashville on Saturday, the sweet music from Music City continued back to Columbia.

Behind efficient offense and stellar defense, the Tigers (11-7) knocked off Georgia 69-57 for their second consecutive SEC victory after starting 0-3 in conference play.

“I told them before the game, can’t think about last week, can’t think about next week,” head coach Robin Pingeton said. “Let’s just be in this game with each other.,.that’s all we really want to focus on is let’s see how good we can be today.”

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Mizzou got off to a fast start offensively, as they penetrated the paint early and often with precision passing. Hayley Frank made a comfortable home in the middle of Georgia’s zone defense, knocking down a couple of free throw line jumpers over the first few minutes of action. At the under-five timeout, the Tigers led 10-6.

The second half of the first quarter was even more fruitful for the Tigers. The Bulldogs were consistently met with white jerseys when they were trying to score; on the other end, Mizzou kept eluding black jerseys for easy baskets. They continued to cut effectively around UGA’s zone defense, and it led to a productive offensive quarter. Frank finished the period with nine points, MU finished the frame shooting 7/9 from inside the arc, and MU led 18-12 after the first 10 minutes.

“We play a little bit of a 3-2 {zone defense}. We kind of understood those rotations,” Pingeton said. “I would think that helped us a little bit understand the coverages.”

The good times kept rolling into the second quarter. The Tigers were following the famous Yogi Berra quote (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it) quite well; Georgia kept leaving the middle of the paint open, and Mizzou kept feeding the ball there. Frank cashed in a pair of free throw line jumpers, while Grace Slaughter found success out of the post.

While back-to-the-basket situations are relatively new for Slaughter, she’s found comfort in them, especially with increased reps as the season’s gone on.

“Growing up, I was a little bit shorter, so I grew up playing point guard,” Slaughter said. “Then, towards middle and high school, I started growing, so I got to develop that back to the basket game. So {it} is a little bit new, but something I enjoy doing.”

On the other end, Georgia went cold, ending the half missing nine of their 10 shots to end the quarter. Mizzou led 37-26 at the half.

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The story of the first 20 minutes was Mizzou’s dominance inside of the arc. While they shot just 3/9 from downtown, they shot a wildly efficient 13/17 from two-point range and won the rebound battle 21-11.

The third quarter started off just like the first two quarters had gone. The first basket of the half saw Frank get the ball at the free throw line and dish the ball to a wide-open Hannah Linthacum (who cut right behind a Georgia defender) for an easy layup. While Mizzou continued working the ball inside, they started finding a rhythm from beyond the arc. Slaughter and Dembele hit back-to-back threes to put Mizzou up by 15. When Dembele knocked down her second triple of the night, she passed the entire Georgia team in three-point makes, as the Bulldogs only had one until about halfway through the quarter.

By the end of the period, Mizzou had stretched their lead all the way to 18, as they led 59-41 after 30 minutes of action. Six different white jerseys scored, including Frank, who added seven points to bring her total up to 22.

The fourth quarter was more of the same. While Georgia began tightening up their interior defense, it was too late. Although they outplayed Mizzou over the final 10 minutes, their offense couldn’t ignite the scoring avalanche required to cut into the large deficit they faced. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read Mizzou 69, Georgia 57.

Frank led the team in scoring with 24 points on an efficient 10/18 shooting. Slaughter also had an efficiently productive night with 16 points on 6/10 shooting.

“Starting SEC play with probably a couple of the toughest opponents we’ll see this year was definitely good for us,” Slaughter said.

While Dembele only scored six points, she contributed a team-high nine rebounds. She also chipped in five assists and made history as well; Dembele passed DeeDee Polk for fifth place on Mizzou’s all-time assist list.

“I’m so proud of her,” Pingeton said. “She’s playing at an all-time high. Her confidence is really high. I think she finally has a grasp of what the quarterback looks like of a team and how to direct traffic and the impact her vibe has on everybody in that locker room.”

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Thursday’s result also starkly contrasted Mizzou’s effort against Georgia last season when they fell in Athens, 62-51. There, Mizzou put up the following shooting numbers:

20/61 from the field (32.8%)

6/26 from three (23.1%)

5/14 from the free throw line (35.7%)

This time around, Mizzou’s shooting numbers looked like this:

28/53 from the field (52.8%)

8/21 from three (38.1%)

5/7 from the free throw line (71.4%)

The Tigers will hit the road for the next game, as they’ll travel to Lexington for a clash with Kentucky (8-10) on Sunday at 2 p.m.