By Matt McFarland
Mizzou Women’s basketball fell short in an overtime to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Sunday by a score of 90-85. Aijah Blackwell led the Tigers in points with 21 off the bench as a freshman. Sam Haiby led the way for the Huskers with 28 points including a 3 pointer with 3 seconds left in the fourth that put the game into OT.
Overall, the Tigers struggled with turnovers, having 19 on the afternoon. The Tigers also struggled defensively for the entirety of the game, but had a chance to win following a late surge on the back of Aijha Blackwell, a true freshman and last year’s number 9 recruit.
The first half for the Tigers was one in which they were outplayed but still found a way to hang around. Abysmal shooting from the field lent itself to a 9-point Nebraska lead at one point in the second. However, the Huskers went ice cold from the field shooting just 2 of 11 to close the half. This was more a product of poor shooting than great defense, as the Huskers missed a handful of wide-open jumpers. Whatever the case, the Tigers clawed themselves back to make it a three-point game at half, on the back of strong 9 for 10 free throw shooting.Blackwell struggled in the first half but came alive in the second, scoring 16 of her 21 in the latter half of play. However, the freshman had 5 turnovers and missed 2 clutch free-throws that would have made Haiby’s last second shot irrelevant. Overall, the freshman was impressive, showing athleticism, vision, and some shooting touch; but she also struggled for large periods of play, a concerning trend in the eyes of Tigers fan.
“We’re not even in that game without Aijha, sometimes as an athlete you dwell on that one possession, but that game wasn’t lost at the line there, we missed too many opportunities,” head coach Robin Pington said postgame.
It is true that without big shots from Blackwell, such as the three that tied the game at 68 in fourth, the Huskers undoubtedly would have won by double digits in the fourth.
Overall the biggest struggle for Missouri was defense, the Huskers had 10 players in double digits and Sam Haiby set a career high in points with 28. For a team that was so stout a season ago, it is troubling to see struggles at the defensive end.
“We knew it was gonna be a marathon not a sprint, we need to continue to improve, but I didn’t see a lot of improvement from Western Illinois to Nebraska,” Pingeton said.
One positive for the Tigers, free throws, Mizzou shot 31-38 from the stripe and despite clutch misses they found ways to get to the line and stay close in a game where they shot 37% percent from the field and only shot the ball a total of 63 times to Nebraska’s 76. It will be interesting to see how this young and very talented team pieces their season together, with a special onus on Aijha Blackwell.
The Tigers will move on and play host to UNI on Wednesday. You can hear the game on KCOU.fm.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org