COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri rode a balanced offensive attack and a shutdown defensive effort to post a 73-49 victory over Missouri State Friday evening at Mizzou Arena. Led by Sophie Cunningham’s 22 points, the Tigers (6-2) placed four scorers in double figures, while holding the Lady Bears (2-5) to a season-low .271 shooting night.
Cunningham matched MSU’s Liza Fruendt for game-high scoring honors, while chipping in seven rebounds and six assists to pace the MU attack. Sierra Michaelis buried four 3-point field goals en route to a 15-point night, and both Cierra Porter and Lindsey Cunningham added 13 points.
Fruendt scored 15 of her 22 points in the opening half, as MSU kept pace with the Tigers’ strong offensive start throughout much of the game’s first 20 minutes. Both clubs broke from the gate with a strong opening period, as Mizzou connected on 9-of-18 tries from the floor to take a 22-18 lead. Lindsay Cunningham and Michaelis combined for four 3-point field goals in the quarter, and the Tigers used a 10-0 run to seize control after a Fruendt trey handed the Lady Bears their lone lead of the night.
Back-to-back triples from Lee Ann Polowy and Shameka Ealy brought the Lady Bears back to within four, but the Tigers scored the first eight points of the second period as part of another big run that ultimately handed them a 36-22 advantage midway through the quarter.
Once again the Lady Bears clawed back, getting another three from Ealy and four free throws to close to within seven points. Fruendt converted 5-of-6 free throw attempts in the half en route to leading all scorers.
But, after knocking down 7-of-15 (.467) shots in the opening period, the Lady Bears struggled in the second, connecting on just 2-of-17 (.118) tries. MU closed the half with three straight points from Michaelis to take a 40-29 edge into the break.
Just as they did to open the contest, the Tigers came out firing at the onset of the second half to build on their lead. Held scoreless in the first half, Amber Smith knocked down three consecutive field goals to open the scoring, before Michaelis’s fourth 3-pointer of the game with 4:50 left gave MU a 53-36 cushion.
A Lindsey Cunningham long-range bomb and two Cierra Porter free throws pushed the margin to 20 points. From there, the Tigers would extend their lead to as many as 28 late in the contest to put the game out of reach.
The MU defense continued its dominance as well, holding the Lady Bears to just 20.5 percent (9-of-44) shooting after the opening period and outscoring MSU by a 26-14 margin in the paint.
In addition to Fruendt’s effort, Danielle Gitzen recorded a career-high four steals to go along with her three assists, and Ealy totaled eight points on 2-of-4 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
Up next, the Lady Bears travel to Tulsa, Okla., next Wednesday (Dec. 7) for a 7 p.m. non-conference match-up with Oral Roberts.