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Missouri women's basketball unable to overcome shooting woes against No. 15 Kentucky


 With 4:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, Missouri sophomore forward Hayley Frank pulled up from beyond the arc and hit the Tigers' first, and only, successful 3-pointer of the game.
Missouri had missed the first 17 3s attempted in Sunday's matchup. For the second straight game, the usually efficient Tigers offense struggled to hit its shots.
In the first half, Missouri went 0-10 from 3 and went into the second half trailing the Wildcats 28-18, eventually losing the game 61-55 despite a great comeback effort in the second half.
"It was a really ugly half of basketball. I really challenged them at halftime." Missouri women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton said.
And the Tigers responded to Pingeton's challenge immediately out of the half. Missouri outscored Kentucky 21-14 in the third quarter and the Tigers entered the fourth quarter down by just three. With Missouri to produce from beyond the arc, its offense ran through LaDazhia Williams in the paint. The junior forward shot 10 of 13 from the field, putting up a career-high 23 points. 
Missouri stayed within striking distance in the fourth quarter, but struggled to take the lead until Frank's 3-pointer swung momentum to the Tigers. Kentucky tried to answer back with a 3 of their own, but missed. Back on the other end, Williams finished strong at the rim and hit a layup, drawing a foul in the process. After Williams made the free throw, the Tigers had a two-point lead, their first since the opening basket of the game.
But crucial mistakes down the stretch proved to be Missouri's undoing. Kentucky's defense hounded the Tigers throughout the game, forcing 13 turnovers, including a critical shot clock violation with 2:29 left in the game. The Wldcats took the lead back after sophomore forward Dre'Una Edwards missed a layup, but then got the offensive rebound herself and made the putback. 
Missouri missed out on opportunities to get back the lead, including two key missed free throws by Williams while the Tigers were down by one. In the final minute, the Wildcats clamped down on defense and escaped with the victory behind 22 points from star junior guard Rhyne Howard. 
Despite the poor shooting performance and close defeat, the Tigers once again played tough against a talented Kentucky squad. Missouri sophomore guard Aijah Blackwell put up her eighth double-double of the season, grabbing a career high 19 rebounds. The Tigers also outscored Kentucky 34-24 in the paint.
"I really thought if we beat them at the paint game, we'd be in great shape," Pingeton said. "We beat them in the paint game and we came up short."
Missouri's loss comes down to the cold 3-point shooting, but the offense adapted well in the third quarter. The loss can also be attributed to not capitalizing on its opponent's mistakes. Missouri only turned the ball over 13 times, one more than Kentucky's 12, yet the Wildcats scored 19 points off of turnovers compared to the Tigers' six. 
In their last two games, the Tigers are 4 for 35 from beyond the arc. Missouri is going to need to get back into a rhythm as it gets deeper into its SEC schedule as the Tigers were among the best shooting teams in the country until this two-game offensive slump. 
The Tigers return to Mizzou Arena at 7 p.m. Thursday to face No. 19 Arkansas. 

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