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Mizzou WBB dominated by LSU despite valiant first half effort

After a first half that saw Robin Pingeton’s squad hang with the defending national champs, LSU took control in the third quarter and walked away with a commanding win.

Cal Tobias/Rock M Nation

In a game that started with so much promise for Mizzou women’s basketball ended with promise having left the building by the end of the third quarter.

After keeping up with the seventh-ranked and defending national champion LSU Tigers in the first half, LSU dominated the third quarter en route to a 92-72 victory. The win moves LSU to 14-1, while the loss drops Mizzou to 9-5.

Both teams came out of the gates firing on offense. LSU continuously worked the ball inside, while Mizzou answered with confident shots from the outside. Ashton Judd, Hayley Frank and Grace Slaughter each knocked down a three, as the road Tigers trailed the home Tigers 12-11 at the first media timeout.

Mizzou started to slow up a bit on offense, as LSU tightened up their off-ball defense, as they did a great job of sticking with the black jerseys on off-ball screens. Then, just as it looked like LSU was going to win the interior battle, Mizzou began attacking the basket with ferocity themselves. The road Tigers converted three consecutive layups; combined with LSU ending the quarter missing seven of their last eight shots, LSU was ahead 20-19 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw Mizzou carry over a similar level of aggression. The quarter kicked off with Frank swishing a left wing three off of a triple screen. Soon after, Mama Dembele found a cutting Abby Feit for an and-one. Just over a minute later, Dembele swiped the ball away from Angel Reese and converted an easy fast break layup.

Then, as all momentum seemed to be with Mizzou, LSU took it right back. Slaughter looked like she had an open fast break layup, only for Flau’jae Johnson to come flying in for a block. Reese converted an and-one on the other end, and Pete Maravich Assembly Center was rocking. After Frank airballed a heavily contested three and Hailey Van Lith made a layup, LSU had all the momentum...until Frank hit her third three of the half to put Mizzou up 30-29.

Both teams went back and forth until the end of the half, when Mizzou missed their last seven shots to close the second quarter. On the other end, LSU kept working the ball inside, as the 8-0 run they ended the half on involved only two-pointers and free throws. LSU led 39-32 at the half, which was their largest lead of the game up until that point.

The third quarter saw LSU sticking to what they did best: getting the ball down low. They scored eight points in the first 2:13, with all eight coming on free throws and two-pointers.

Reese was called for a foul when she reached over Frank a little too aggressively. Upon further review, however, it was upgraded to an intentional foul, which meant two free throws and possession for Mizzou. Frank knocked down both free throws, then drilled a three to bring Mizzou within six.

That’s when the LSU took control.

From the 7:21 mark to the 5:20 mark, LSU went 4/4 from the field, including two triples as well as an and-one. Mizzou, on the other hand, committed four turnovers, three of which led to LSU baskets. By the time Pingeton called a timeout at the 5:20 mark, LSU had gone on an 11-0 run and led 58-41.

Later in the quarter, LSU went on an 8-0 run that ballooned their lead to 24. By the end of the frame, LSU led 71-49.

The fourth quarter saw Mizzou go back-and-forth with LSU. Six different black jerseys scored, and Mizzou won the quarter 23-21. Unfortunately, the mountain proved too high to climb in 10 minutes, as LSU walked away with a 20-point victory.

Early on, Mizzou seemed to be executing the same formula Colorado used earlier this to take down the defending national champions. They were aggressive on both ends of the floor, converted from three at a relatively high rate (started 3/3) and kept LSU from dominating the glass (LSU only won the rebound battle by two in the first half). However, it all came crashing down in the third quarter.

This is the fourth instance of Mizzou letting a singular quarter in the second half define the game. Against Virginia, the Cavaliers outscored the Tigers 27-13 in the third quarter. Against Kansas State, the Wildcats won the third quarter 36-12. Against SLU, the Billikens won the fourth quarter 36-21. For each of those three games, here are the scores of the other three quarters (in the case of the Virginia game, OT is included as well).

Mizzou 64, Saint Louis 57

Mizzou 74, Virginia 72

Kansas State 48, Mizzou 44

Similarly, if we took out the third quarter of Thursday’s game, the score would read LSU 60, Mizzou 49. It was a mostly competitive game that was ultimately decided by a resounding 10-minute stretch from the home team.

“Three out of the four quarters, I thought we really competed at a high level,” head coach Robin Pingeton said. “I don’t what magic {Kim Mulkey’s} got at halftime, but that third quarter seems to be a problem for everyone...we talked about it, the importance of those first five minutes coming out of the half, but they just took it to a whole ‘nother level.”

Pingeton certainly has a point. Against Kent State, SE Louisiana, Virginia Tech and Louisiana, LSU led by just single digits at halftime. Their average scoring margin in the second half of those four games is a whopping 21 points, and they outscored Mizzou by 13 in the final 20 minutes thanks to the huge third quarter.

Frank led Mizzou in scoring with 22 points. Dembele had a very Dembele-ian statline with 15 points, six rebounds, nine assists and five steals. On the other side, LSU had four double-digit scorers, including three 20+ points scorers. This is how LSU usually does things on offense, as they have five players averaging at least 12 points per game entering Thursday (only UCLA shared that distinction).

Turnovers also plagued Mizzou, as they lost the turnover battle 18-13.

“I just felt like we got sped up, especially in that third quarter,” Pingeton said. “We just didn’t value the ball at the level that we needed to. We knew those live balls turnovers would come back to bite us, and I thought they did.”

Against an LSU squad that forced the fifth most turnovers per game in Division I entering Thursday (24.4), taking care of the ball was a must, but the road Tigers failed to do so.

“That’s one of the things that makes LSU really good is their ability to get out and go in transition,” Pingeton said. “And then, you get the crowd and the energy, and it snowballs in a hurry.”

The Tigers will look to get back on track when travel back home to take on Alabama (13-3) on Jan. 7 at 7 PM.