Arkansas outlasts Mizzou in OT in SEC Women’s Tournament | Mizzou Sports News


By Max Baker Special for the Post-Dispatch

It’s hard to understand this Missouri women’s basketball team. After second-highest scorer and St. Louis native Aijha Blackwell and two other players missed the last two games for failing to meet team expectations, it appeared United’s rotation could return to its old self. for this week’s Southeastern Conference tournament.

But coach Robin Pingeton opted out of starting Blackwell Thursday against Arkansas in Nashville because the second-team All-SEC forward was out of the squad for a week. Missouri’s offense struggled most of the day in a 61-52 overtime loss to the Razorbacks at Bridgestone Arena. The Tigers (18-12) will now wait until March 13 to see if they make it into the NCAA Tournament field for the first time in three years. Arkansas (18-12) advanced to face No. 1 South Carolina on Friday.

“We had practice before this tournament where (Blackwell) was available,” Pingeton said after his team’s seventh straight loss to Arkansas. “Practice was canceled yesterday due to travel (problems) and arriving late, so we didn’t get a chance to practice here. We won two big games where she wasn’t in the rotation and “To be out for seven days is a long time. We’ve tweaked some things offensively and I’m sure the conditioning is a small factor.

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Blackwell and reserves Kiya Dorroh and Skylah Travis were cited by MU police for possession of marijuana on February 21 and did not appear in the next two games.

Needing a win to feel comfortable with NCAA tournament odds, Pingeton turned to the same opening roster that eliminated No. 15 Florida on Sunday. Blackwell missed the first 17:16 of the match and entered with United leading 21-15. Pingeton said she met Blackwell before the tournament to have a different role in her first match. Blackwell finished with five points and eight rebounds in 11 minutes. She came out of the floor with 2:46 left in regulation time and did not return.

“Obviously she’s a big part of what we’ve been able to do this season,” Pingeton said. “We had to choose who was in the rotation and we thought that was going to give us our best chance. I don’t know if I really think it’s fair for other players to suddenly change something.

Despite shooting less than 30% from the field, United led for most of the game, limiting Arkansas to 27%. United’s lead never exceeded nine points and Arkansas tied the game at 32-32 going into the fourth quarter. After the Razorbacks scored to take a two-point lead with 25 seconds left, Haley Troup tied the game at 48-48 with two of her career-high 21 points.

Troup scored the first points of the game in overtime, but a 9-0 run by the Razorbacks ended the Tigers’ hopes.

At the start of the week, Mizzou was projected as the No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN and ranked as one of the last four teams on the court.

After the match, Blackwell and former Mizzou star Sophie Cunningham exchanged words on Twitter when Cunningham replied to a tweet saying it was a bad time to teach “a kid” a lesson.

“Or a great learning opportunity to take responsibility for your actions,” Cunningham tweeted. “If you can’t meet the standards of a D1 athlete, you shouldn’t be allowed to perform on the highest stage. Reward working kids and do it the right way. It’s hard work to to do things well !

Blackwell replied, “Shit, Sophie. I understand though because most of your actions were hidden and unknown, so of course you are comfortable saying that about me. Keep being awesome, girl.

Cunningham, who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, is the school’s all-time leading scorer and played at United from 2015-19.

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