Women’s basketball hosted their first exhibition game of the year Monday night in Mizzou Arena against McKendree University. With men’s basketball generating so much excitement, the women look to solidify their top 20 preseason ranking. They currently sit at 16 in the AP poll.
All-SEC guard Sophie Cunningham got off to a fast start, stuffing the stat sheet with 4 points, a steal, an assist, and 2 boards early. The rest of the Tigers started on fire behind the arc, going 4-7 from behind the arc in the first quarter. They also forced 6 turnovers, which were converted into 12 points. It all added up to a 31 to 7 Tigers lead after the first quarter.
The Tiger’s offense slowed down in the second quarter, shooting just 33 percent from the field. The continued to pressure the Bearcats with sweltering defense. They only made 3 buckets on 14 attempts. The Tigers forced another 6 turnovers. Lauren Aldridge was all over the floor, registering 8 points and 3 assists in the first half. Jordan Frericks added 7 points, 5 boards, and 2 helpers. Despite the struggles on offense, they pushed their advantage to 48 to 15 after the first half.
The offensive woes continued in the third quarter. The Tigers shot 5 for 14 and 1 for 7 from deep in the quarter. They also turned the ball over 4 times. They continued to pressure McKendree on defenses, only allowing 9 points in the quarter. The lead was 41 points after 3 quarters, with the Tigers on top 65-24.
The Tigers put it all together in the final quarter. They shot an efficient 5-11 from the floor, and held the Bearcats to a measly 27 percent field goal percentage. The final score was 80-30.
Mizzou dominated inside throughout the game. They brought in 47 rebounds to McKendree’s 31. They also dropped 36 of their 80 points in the paint, and added 7 blocks. Another encouraging sign was that they sunk 80 percent of their free throws, which could loom large in some tighter games down the road.
Cunningham was fantastic. She led the team with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Kayla Michael was solid throughout the contest, adding 10 points, 6 board, and even dished 3 helpers. 11 different Tigers made a bucket. The chemistry this team has built was evident, and they look poised to take the next step this year. This victory over McKendree was the first step in a long journey.