Kayla McDowell scored 13 points, matching her best scoring outing in SEC play this season.
Jan. 30, 2014
Columbia, Mo. - Missouri Women's Basketball held off No. 16 Vanderbilt for its 10th home win of the season Thursday, downing the Commodores, 59-54, behind a great effort from its bench players. The Tiger reserves scored 20 of their 30 combined points in the first half, getting contributions from five different players. The Tiger defense held Vanderbilt to 22-percent shooting from the field, despite the Commodores shooting 37-percent or better in all of their previous games. With the victory, Missouri improves to 14-7 overall and 3-5 in the SEC and now has two wins over ranked opponents this season.
Both of Mizzou's anchors in the paint, senior Bri Kulas and freshman Jordan Frericks, dealt with foul trouble in the first half, forcing head coach Robin Pingeton to turn to her bench for production. With the score knotted at 8-8 just over six minutes into the game, freshman Kayla McDowell subbed into the game and a minute later knocked down her third three-pointer of the season. On the next possession, McDowell willed in a tough layup to push the Tigers lead to five. She finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, her best performance in SEC play.
At the 6:48 mark, Mizzou's second group still clung to an 18-15 advantage. After a nifty bucket from freshman point guard Lindsey Cunningham and another from Bree Fowler, Maddie Stock buried a contested trey. Three minutes later, Morgan Eye banged in a three-pointer of her own, helping the Tigers finish the half on an 18-5 run.
Although the Tigers' shots were falling, the run was sparked by their tenacious zone defense. Vanderbilt was held without a field goal in the last 6:48 of the half, shooting just 23.3 percent from the floor and 14.3 percent from three-point range in the first 20 minutes of the game. Missouri owned a 33-20 lead at the halftime break and got 20 points from its reserves in the opening frame.
Kulas returned to action with a bang to the start the second half, converting an old-fashioned three-point play on Mizzou's first possession. She scored a game-high 15 points. Foul trouble continued to hamper the senior, but the Tiger defense allowed them to maintain a double-digit advantage until Vanderbilt put together an 11-1 run that shrunk the lead to 47-41 lead with 4:58 to play.
Morgan Stock nailed a clutch three-pointer and Kulas tossed in a tough floater to stop the bleeding. The Commodores managed to clip their deficit to 55-54, but the Tigers clamped down defensively again and got two crucial stops in the final minute to stave off a comeback. Missouri will now head on the road to face No. 7 South Carolina on Sunday. The game tips off at 2 p.m.
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