Missouri women’s basketball withstands late comeback, wins final exhibition game

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By Anthony Romano, 23 Sports

Tuesday, Nov. 11-

LaQuinta Jefferson’s 40 points were nearly enough to upset the the Missouri women’s basketball team, but the Tigers held on to defeat Missouri Western 78-75 in the final exhibition contest of the season.

Mizzou was led by an impressive effort out of freshman Bri Porter, who scored 22 points, going 7-for-12 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free throw line. Porter came off the bench for the Tigers and contributed 26 minutes in a game in which the bench accounted for 39 of the team’s 78 points.

Overall, it was a tale of two halves in this matchup of Division I and Division II in-state rivals, as Missouri dominated the first half, while the second saw Jefferson explode for MWSU to make it a close contest.

The game opened with both teams experiencing issues, as Missouri Western committed 17 personal fouls in the first half and sending the Tigers to the line more times than coach Rob Edmisson would have liked to see early on. Conversely, Missouri experienced more trouble from the charity stripe, converting a ghastly seven out of 17 free throw attempts in the first half to nullify the Griffons’ foul issues.

Once Porter entered the game, things turned around quickly for this Missouri team as the 6-foot-3-inch newcomer took control of the offense and had her way with the porous defense of the Griffons en route to 16 first half tallies, and led the Tigers to a 41-24 halftime advantage.

If the first half was about Porter’s leadership, the second was certainly about the dominance of Jefferson on the other side, as the 6-foot junior scored all but four of her 40 points in the second frame, converting 11 of her 16 field goal attempts, including two from long range. Jefferson notched 12 of 14 free throw attempts to make it a tight contest heading into the game’s final seconds.

Having erased what was at one time an 18 point deficit, Jefferson and the Griffons had cut Missouri’s lead to six with 1:46 to play. After a costly turnover by senior Morgan Eye, Jefferson marched down the court and converted a layup to make it 74-70 before Missouri was able to get an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession and run it down to 22 seconds left with the score sitting at 75-70.

Jefferson took it again for MWSU and drew a foul, converting both free throws to make it a three point game yet again. Eye, however, was intentionally fouled almost immediately and hit both shots to restore Mizzou’s lead to 5.

With just five seconds remaining, Jefferson launched a desperation 3-point attempt that found its way in the net. With a slim two point lead, Eye missed one of two free throws after being intentionally fouled to set up a potential game-tying situation for the Griffons.

To nobody’s surprise, it was Jefferson who handled the rock with just over three seconds remaining, but her luck had run out as one final 3-point attempt did not fall and the Tigers held on to win by a score of 78-75.

Missouri saw some good performances all around, as Eye hit four 3-pointers and had 15 points, sophomore Jordan Frericks brought down 10 rebounds despite fouling out in the second half, and sophomore Sierra Michaelis contributed 16 points of her own to lock down a win for head coach Robin Pingeton’s squad heading into the regular season.

Missouri opens its season on November 15, as the Tigers will host Western Illinois at 2 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.