By: Ethan Tyrrell, KCOU Sports
If the Missouri women’s basketball team was looking for a boost in confidence in their final exhibition game against Division II Missouri Western Griffons, they didn’t find it. While the Tigers won the contest, it was only by three points with a final score of 78-75 on Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.
The game started out unexpectedly, as Missouri Western found ways to keep the score close. Missouri held the lead, but the Griffons kept it to single digits until there were three minutes left in the first half.
An issue in the Tigers became clear in the first half. They were given ample free throw opportunities but they were only able to capitalize on 7 of 17 them. Their free throw game was vastly improved in the second half, though, as they converted 12 of 17 second half attempts.
The game went into halftime with a 41-24 Mizzou advantage and it looked like the Tigers finally had control of their Division II opponents. This continued partway through the second half. The Tigers built their lead up to 18 points.
But the second half would prove to be a challenge for Missouri. Griffon guard LaQuinta Jefferson, who scored only four points in the first half, took control of the game in the second half. She scored 36 second half points. The entire Tigers team scored 37 in the half. With a minute left in the game, Jefferson cut the Mizzou lead to four with a layup. Following a Missouri free throw, Jefferson hit a quick three-point shot to put the Griffons down by just two. Missouri was fouled, and the Tigers converted one of their two free throw attempts. LaQuinta Jefferson took one final shot for the tie, but it missed the mark.
While the Tigers’ meltdown may be a concerning signs of things to come, there was one definite bright spot. Freshman forward Bri Porter scored 22 points in her 15 minutes of play. She completed 7 of her 12 shots and 8 of her 11 free throws.
The Tigers will kick off their regular season Saturday, Nov. 15 against the Western Illinois Leatherneck at 2:00 PM at Mizzou Arena.