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Late Run Pushes Panthers Past Tigers, 60-58

MUTIGERS.COM
<i>Mizzou finished the 2012-13 campaign with 17 wins, the most in the Robin Pingeton era.</i>

MUTIGERS.COM
Mizzou finished the 2012-13 campaign with 17 wins, the most in the Robin Pingeton era.
MUTIGERS.COM

March 20, 2013

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - An 8-0 run by Eastern Illinois over the final 3:29 was the difference between Mizzou (17-15) and the visiting Panthers, as the Tigers fell by a 60-58 final score in the opening round of Women's NIT play on Wednesday (March 20) night at Mizzou Arena. The final score was the first lead for Eastern Illinois since the 17:57 mark in the second half, when the Panthers led by a single point. The loss wraps up the 2012-13 campaign and the third year under head coach Robin Pingeton. The 17 wins this season are the most in the Pingeton era at Mizzou.

Eight different Tigers scored in the season finale, highlighted by 12-point performances by senior Sydney Crafton and junior Bri Kulas. Morgan Eye and Liz Smith each turned in impressive nine-point games, with Smith scoring all nine of her points in the first half of the contest. The Tigers won the rebounding battle, 35-29, but were outshot in free throws, where the home squad went just 1-for-4 from the charity stripe. The loss came in Mizzou's first postseason appearance since the 2006-07 season, and the team fell just 3:29 short of its first postseason win since a 2002-03 Women's NIT win in the second round.

Smith scored the first four points of the game to put the Tigers on top, but a 5-0 run for Eastern Illinois gave the Panthers a one-point edge. Crafton scored the next four points for Mizzou after a Smith free throw to knot the game at nine before a Panther 3-pointer boosted the away team to a three-point lead. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Eye and Kyley Simmons pushed the Tigers ahead by three, but an EIU trey on the other end knotted the game at 15.

Smith again made the next four points for the Tigers to keep Mizzou close, trailing 21-19 at the under-8 media timeout. Kulas scored the next five points for Mizzou to give the Tigers a three-point lead, but a Panther bucket on the other end quickly cut it to one. Kulas again nailed a trey after Eastern Illinois took a 25-24 lead, but the Panthers tied it on their next possession. A transition layup gave the Panthers an edge of two points at the under-4 timeout, and the 29-27 score in favor of Eastern Illinois held into halftime.

Kulas's jumper tied the game at 29 to start the second half, and Simmons put the Tigers up 32-31 by answering a Panther jumper with a shot from distance. The lead was short-lived, as EIU answered on its next possession. Two straight Crafton layups gave Mizzou a three-point edge, and Michelle Hudyn kept the cushion by matching an Eastern Illinois two. Eye added on to the Tiger lead with another shot from behind the arc, giving the Tigers a six-point lead.

The teams traded buckets, with Crafton and Kulas hitting for the Tigers to hold the lead at 45-39, and Hudyn finished off a layup to push the lead to eight. Liene Priede scored two straight buckets for the Tigers, but the Panthers kept responding to keep the difference a manageable six points. When Eastern Illinois cut the lead to three, Lianna Doty hit a big jumper to push the lead back to five before a 4-0 run by Eastern Illinois made the score 53-52 in favor of Mizzou.

Eye nailed a three to push the lead to four, and a Crafton jumper gave Mizzou a 58-52 advantage at the under-4 timeout. A 6-0 run after the break tied the game at 58, and a jumper with 20 seconds remaining put Eastern Illinois on top by two, a lead the Panthers would not relinquish.

The loss ends the season for the 2012-13 Missouri women's hoops team. Follow the team on Twitter (@MissouriWBB) or check in to MUTigers.com for all the latest news on the team.