Missouri’s 20 turnovers too much to overcome in thrilling loss

Down 16 in the fourth quarter, Missouri cut the lead to just one point — but LSU held on.

On most nights, a team doesn’t win with 20 turnovers. But when both teams turn the ball over 20 times, one team has to.

After Missouri lost the ball 18 times through the first three quarters and trailed LSU by 16 points early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers found a second gear and exploded for 27 fourth quarter points while turning the ball over just twice.

Even that wasn’t enough. Missouri couldn’t complete the comeback and lost to LSU, 66-64.

The Tigers started the game ice-cold, making just one of their first nine baskets and turning the ball over six times in the first six minutes. They scored just eight points in the first quarter, a 21-point difference from their first quarter against Ole Miss last Thursday.

“When we would break their pressure, it seemed that we’d exhale,” head coach Robin Pingeton said. “You just felt the deflation. I felt it in timeouts, I felt it on the bench. But we cannot hang our hat on our offense. There’s gonna be nights that the shot does not fall.”

LSU didn’t shoot the ball well in the first quarter, nor did they take care of it. The Baton Rouge Tigers had six turnovers in the opening frame and only made five field goals, but a five point lead going into the second quarter was all they needed to hang on in the end.

Redshirt junior LaDazhia Williams struggled for the first time in quite a while. She had trouble posting up against LSU’s tall and physical center, redshirt senior Faustine Aifuwa. Williams only took six shots and finished with 11 points. For Pingeton’s standards, that’s not good enough.

“I think she’s gotta assert herself a little more,” Pingeton said. “I think at times in the post she has a habit to fade away a little bit where we’d rather her play a little bit more power basketball. She’s gonna be really special. I don’t know that tonight was one of her better nights, but I don’t think it was a good night for our team.”

In the fourth quarter, the Tigers reduced LSU’s lead to one multiple times but were never able to draw even.

Missouri’s three leading scorers — Williams, Hayley Frank and Aijha Blackwell — combined to score just nine points in the first half and went 4-10 from the field. The trio had a much stronger second half, scoring 25 of the team’s 44 points.

Blackwell hit a clutch three-pointer to bring Missouri within one with three seconds left, but the Tigers were unable to defend LSU’s inbound pass. Time expired before Missouri could foul and stop the clock.

The sophomore was back on the court five minutes after the final buzzer sounded. She spent nearly 30 minutes taking shots from all around the floor.

“I thought her second half was much better,” Pingeton said. “From a leadership standpoint, she has the ability to impact. At halftime we needed her just to take a deep breath and stop pressing so much.”

Frank agreed:

“None of us are happy with losing,” she said. “I think [Aijha back on the court] is just [her] being a gamer and being frustrated with the outcome.”

With the loss, the Tigers dropped to 5-4 on the season and 1-3 in the SEC.

Missouri doesn’t have much time to think about this one. The Tigers are back in action for their toughest matchup on paper yet — a date with No. 7 Texas A&M on Jan. 24.

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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