Just short: Stellar 4th quarter shooting not enough as No. 10 Arkansas holds on against Missouri

Excellent shooting from the field in the fourth quarter was just shy of what the Tigers needed to overcome three deep balls and clutch free throw shooting.

It was a game Missouri could’ve won, but it just couldn’t finish the job.

Aijha Blackwell’s 20-point double-double wasn’t enough to overcome No. 10 Arkansas’ hot three-point shooting in a narrow 91-88 loss in Fayetteville, Ark.

Arkansas came in shooting an impressive 37.2% from the three-point line and 45.6% from the field. Against Missouri, not too much was different. The Razorbacks made 12 three-pointers and shot 39.4% from the field to prevent Missouri from having much of a chance.

Still, the Tigers never went away. They made 11 of their 16 shots in the fourth quarter and scored 29 points — the most of any quarter between the two teams.

“I was proud of our girls,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “I thought we grew up a little bit, which was big bouncing back from a really disappointing game [against Alabama].”

Both teams shot the ball well in the first quarter. The Tigers were 8-14 from the field while the Razorbacks shot 9-19 and 4-9 from beyond the arc. Missouri forward LaDazhia Williams had nine points in the first quarter off perfect shooting and three trips to the free-throw line.

Scoring runs filled the first half for both teams.

Missouri started the game on an 8-0 run. Arkansas responded with a 14-5 run to take the lead. The Razorbacks then opened the second quarter on a 10-0 run, but the Tigers kept the score close through a 9-2 run of their own. Arkansas ended the second quarter the way it started it — a 7-0 run capped off by Amber Ramirez’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to extend the Razorbacks’ halftime lead to 11.

“It’s gotta be that next play mentality,” Pingeton said. “That last play is over. That’s an experience thing, it’s a maturity thing. We’ve gotta have a quicker bounce back.”

Three Arkansas players — Amber Ramirez, Chelsea Dungee and Makayla Daniels — all had at least 10 points at the half.

In the second half, Missouri turned it up a notch. The Tigers scored on 20 of their 30 shot attempts including four of 10 from the three-point line. In an average game, that may have been enough to come back and win.

Not tonight.

Arkansas had a good second half of its own, making five three-pointers and going 19-24 from the free-throw line.

“The first half, we did a much better job keeping them away from the free-throw line,” Pingeton said. “In the second half, we put them on the free-throw line too much.”

The Razorbacks put together an all-around solid shooting night, finishing the game 39.4% from the field, 35.3% from three and 23-31 from the line.

“They can score at the rim, they can score from the free-throw line and score from the three-point line,” Pingeton said. “We had to eliminate one of those.”

Blackwell finished with a double-double, her fourth of the season. Five Missouri players were in double digits, the second time already that has happened this season. It only happened once all of last season.

Missouri turned a double-digit lead to three early in the fourth quarter. After Arkansas got the lead back to nine, the Tigers once again decreased it to four. But the tying basket was just never there, and Missouri dropped to 4-3 on the season and 0-2 in SEC play.

Its next opponent is scheduled to be Auburn on Jan. 10, but that could change. The Tigers were supposed to take on Vanderbilt on Jan. 7, but positive COVID cases within the Commodores’ program led to the cancellation.

There’s a chance Missouri will play a non-conference opponent this week instead, but that has not been confirmed.

“I’ll leave that for our administration,” Pingeton said. “I’d love to get another game. I think our kids need to play right now.”

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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