By: Garrett Jones
On Monday night, SEC East division foes clashed at Mizzou Arena, when the Missouri Tigers (16-7, 6-3) edged the 25th ranked Kentucky Wildcats (15-7, 5-3), by a score of 73-67.
It was the annual Gold Rush game at Mizzou Arena, and a gilded Monday night crowd of 3,374, possibly the loudest for a game of either the men’s or women’s seasons, was rewarded for its energy and enthusiasm on big plays with a Tiger victory.
The main storyline in the matchup was the potential implications surrounding seeding in the upcoming NCAA Women’s Tournament. According to Charlie Creme of ESPN.com’s Bracketology, heading into the game, Kentucky was projected as a 4-seed, and Missouri a 7-seed.
Both teams were riding hot streaks. Kentucky entered the game with a five game win-streak, while Missouri had won four straight contests. They also entered the game 12-1 at Mizzou Arena this season, with the only loss coming at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide by virtue of a buzzer-beating three-point field goal that sunk the Tigers back on January 8th.
It was a tightly contested first quarter, which saw the Tigers take a 15-14 lead. The Tigers’ leading scorer on the season, Sophie Cunningham, got into early foul trouble, racking up 2 personals, and found herself scoreless at the end of the first. Her older sister Lindsey, however, picked up the slack. She poured in 8 first-quarter points to lead all scorers.
The Tigers found themselves in foul trouble early on, and it would continue throughout the quarter. They racked up a whopping eight team fouls in the quarter to Kentucky’s two in the second quarter alone.
Senior Sierra Michaelis would establish herself as a dominant force in the third quarter, adding 8 points to her total in the quarter alone as Missouri would enter the fourth quarter leading 48-45.
In the fourth and final quarter, the Tigers continued to impose their will. They established themselves as the better team on this night, outscoring Kentucky 25-22 in the fourth. Cierra Porter and Amber Smith came up huge for the Tigers, recording multiple offensive rebounds and key buckets, making a huge positive impact on offense.
Michaelis would lead Mizzou scorers with 19. Amber Smith and Cierra Porter both added 15 points each. After being held scoreless through three quarters, Sophie Cunningham had an incredible fourth quarter in which she accumulated 14 points and 9 rebounds.
The Tigers will need the momentum gathered from the win for their next game- a huge matchup on Sunday at the 5th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.