Cunningham, Mizzou defense overwhelm Illini in 72-55 Braggin’ Rights victory

While Mizzou’s defense dominated Illinois, Sophie Cunningham contributed 27 points for the Tigers.

Sophomore guard Sophie Cunningham, 3, looks to the basket as she makes the winning shot. Cunningham had 26 points against South Carolina on February 20 2017, including the winning basket. Maneater File Photo

After a neck-and-neck first quarter of play, a Cierra Porter layup early in the second quarter gave Missouri a two-point lead and the Tigers never looked back, holding onto the lead for the rest of the game to beat Illinois 72-55 at home on Friday in the Braggin’ Rights rivalry.

Mizzou’s Sophie Cunningham led all scorers with 27 points. It was her fifth game this season with at least 20 points. Cierra Porter (11 points) and Jordan Frericks (10 points) were the only other Tigers to finish in double figures, and Brandi Beasley led Illinois with 14 points.

The Tigers’ offensive performance held up, as they shot 51 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc. However, what was more impressive was the Tigers’ ability to shut down the Illini offense.

Illinois shot just 34 percent from the field on 62 attempts and scored just 18 points — only about a third of their point total — in the paint. For comparison, Mizzou’s 36 points in the paint gave the Tigers half of their scoring total. The Illini were shut down in the second and final quarters, scoring just 19 points combined in those two quarters.

The win puts 16th-ranked Mizzou at 12-1 on the season. The Tigers open up Southeastern Conference play with a road matchup against Alabama on New Year’s Eve at 2 p.m. CT.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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