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Cunningham, Smith lead MU women past UMKC

Cunningham, Smith lead MU women past UMKC

December 7th, 2018 by Colin O'Brien in Mizzou Sports

COLUMBIA — It was a stellar night for Missouri's stars in a 66-59 win against Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday at Mizzou Arena, but disappointing in most other aspects for Tigers head coach Robin Pingeton.

It was the team's fourth consecutive win after an opening-round loss to Michigan in the Gulf Coast Showcase in November.

Sophie Cunningham scored 24 points and Amber Smith added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the No. 23 Tigers (7-2), but no other player scored more than eight points in the win. It was Smith's fifth double-double this season and her third in the last four games.

Ericka Mattingly scored 20 points for the Kangaroos (2-6) and Emily Ivory chipped in 18. Neither team had more than two players in double figures.

After the game, Pingeton said the team is lacking a level of intensity and a sense of urgency at times.

"It's been really inconsistent, so, yes," Pingeton said when asked if the lack of intensity is a problem in practice as well. "It's a challenge right now.

"I didn't think this week's practice was necessarily a bad week of practice, I really didn't, but I feel like the preparation going into a game, all that stuff matters. We're not good enough to just lace 'em up and go play. I think we are at our best when we play with toughness and grittiness and a sense of urgency, and attention to detail."

Pingeton said the team possessed those qualities in wins against Quinnipiac, Duke and West Virginia, but not against UMKC. Missouri turned the ball over 17 times against a team that did not pressure and shot 15-of-28 from the foul line.

"If we're going strictly on the box score, that's another good win for us, four in a row," Pingeton said. "But if you want to really break down the game, obviously it wasn't one of our better games. I thought we really did a poor job guarding off that ball-screen action, taking away the clear-side drive. Free-throw line, to me, just unacceptable. We're too good of shooters. To me, that's more of a focus situation."

The Kangaroos were persistent and within two at halftime. But Missouri's height advantage, combined with UMKC cooling off after shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, saw the Tigers build a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Missouri forced one more turnover, 18, from the 'Roos than it gave up, and dominated points in the paint, 36 to 16 and rebounds, 37 to 24.

Cunningham, who left early in the first quarter with an ankle injury but quickly returned with a brace on it, fouled out with 24 points and six rebounds in 33 minutes. Missouri was plus-24 with Cunningham on the floor, 10 points better than any other player.

Neither team shot particularly well from 3 — UMKC was 5-of-17 and the Tigers shot 3-of-12. Cunningham made two of Missouri's 3s and Emmanuelle Tahane banked in the other from straight away. Tahane scored eight points and added five rebounds and an assist in a career-high 27 minutes.

UMKC freshman Claire Lock, sister of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, did not play in the game, though the Lock family, including her brother, were in attendence.

The Tigers hit the road Sunday for another game against an in-state opponent as they play Saint Louis at 5 p.m. in Chaifetz Arena.

The Billikens are 4-5 with wins against Chattanooga, at Virginia, and against Southern Illinois and SIU-Edwardsville. Saint Louis lost 98-42 Tuesday at home to No. 2 Connecticut in a homecoming game for former Jefferson City Lady Jay Napheesa Collier. Collier had 22 points and 11 rebounds in the win.