Size dooms Missouri against Tennessee in SEC opener

Size dooms Missouri against Tennessee in SEC opener

For a moment, it looked as though Missouri (3-11, 0-1 SEC) might be able to stage an upset of No. 22 Tennessee (11-2, 1-0 SEC) to kick-off conference play. In the end, the Lady Vols’ size and physical play delivered the Tigers a 77-66 defeat in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Tigers started quickly, grabbing a lead near the end of the first quarter. Freshman Aijha Blackwell drained a 3-pointer from each corner and senior Jordan Chavis scored eight points in the first quarter.

Missouri fell behind in the second quarter, however, as the Lady Vols settled into the game. Tennessee’s size kept the Tigers from finishing at the rim, and the visitors’ 3-point shooting regressed. Missouri struggled with consistency, failing to make any shots in the first 4:39 or final 3:54 of the quarter.

The game started to get away from the Tigers in the third quarter. Tennessee led by as much as 14, but a late run cut the deficit to only four points early in the fourth quarter. As three-point opportunities dried up and Missouri pushed to the interior, though, the Lady Vols re-established their dominance.

Size was undoubtedly a factor in Tennessee’s win, as the hosts enjoyed a 44-22 advantage in scoring in the paint. The height gap also helped to give the Lady Vols second-chance opportunities to score, and Tennessee grabbed 43 rebounds — 18 of them offensive — dwarfing Missouri’s 22 total.

Senior Amber Smith, who played 38 minutes, led the Tigers in scoring with 22 points, including four 3-pointers. Blackwell was the only other Missouri player to finish in double digits, with 16 points.

Missouri hosts Louisiana State (11-2, 1-0 SEC) in a nationally-televised game at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Edited by Wilson Moore |

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