Trio lead Missouri women's basketball past Missouri State

The Missouri bench celebrates during Wednesday night’s win against Missouri State at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Courtesy of Mizzou Sports)
The Missouri bench celebrates during Wednesday night’s win against Missouri State at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. (Courtesy of Mizzou Sports)

COLUMBIA -- The Missouri Tigers piled up great individual nights to put together a big team win.

The Tigers beat the Missouri State Lady Bears 81-63 on Wednesday at Mizzou Arena with a near triple-double from Mama Dembele, a double-double from Ashton Judd and a near double-double from Hayley Frank.

“We had some really good performances, individually,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “Really, really happy for Mama. It’s been really cool to just see her blossom and grow and for her to be at that point where she understands the impact that she has on this team.”

Dembele ended with 10 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, exiting the game after her eighth board with a couple of minutes left in the blowout.

“I don’t think I did anything special,” Dembele said. “I did the exact same thing that I always do. Maybe it was a lollipop that (Abby) Feit gave me.”

Judd led the team with 20 points and 10 boards, controlling the offense with 20 total shots while Frank was next closest with 11 attempts.

Frank added 14 points and nine rebounds on 5-of-11 shooting overall and extended to 30 consecutive made free throws with a 2-for-2 night at the line.

The Lady Bears went up 3-0, then Hannah Linthacum brought down the first of her six rebounds and dished an assist to Dembele for a left-wing 3 to tie the game with 7:31 left in the first quarter.

It was the final time the Lady Bears would lead, as Grace Slaughter spun through the lane on a fast-break for a layup to go up 5-3 before Paige Rocca hit a pull-up jumper from the free-throw line to tie the game at 5 with 6:26 left in the first quarter. Rocca ended with a team-high 13 points for Missouri State.

Hannah Linthacum scored two of her four total points on a fast-break layup off a Dembele assist, putting the Tigers in front for good with 6:19 left in the opening quarter.

“When we feel like there’s opportunities to get some mismatches down low, we want to make sure we’re alert and aware and able to capitalize on those opportunities,” Pingeton said.

Hannah Linthacum then hit two free throws to extend the lead to 9-5.

Missouri began pulling away with Judd hitting consecutive layups before Abby Feit used a post-entry assist from Frank for a layup to go ahead 18-7 with 1:57 left in the first.

The Tigers hit five of their final six shots before the first break to take a 22-11 lead into the second quarter.

“We all were moving the ball well and Mama always throws great passes,” Feit said. “I think I was just on the receiving end of a lot of those and I think we just worked well together as a team.”

Sarah Linthacum got the Tigers on the board in the second quarter when she grabbed one of her two rebounds for a putback for her two points and lone shot.

The Tigers then used a six-point run late in the second quarter with Frank’s two free throws followed by layups from Hilke Feldrappe and Dembele to go up 37-25 with 2:56 left before halftime.

Missouri’s biggest lead of the first half came two minutes later after a Judd 3 put the Tigers up 40-27, but Kennedy Taylor grabbed one of her team-high six rebounds and scored on a putback for Missouri State to cut the lead to 40-29 going into halftime.

“It was a good team win, but there are certainly areas that we need to continue to get better at,” Pingeton said.

The Tigers extended as far as a 16-point lead at four times in the third quarter, but a Feit layup off a Feldrappe assist sent Missouri into the final break with a 60-46 lead.

A 17-3 run to open the fourth quarter all but sealed the game for the Tigers allowing Pingeton to give extra minutes to her reserves as Missouri stayed at least 20 points ahead through the final 5:35.

“I thought it was really good for us to be able to go so deep into our bench today,” Pingeton said. “I think that’s probably when we’re at our best, when we get some extra rotations and are able to give some of our players some rest.”

Feit joined Frank, Judd and Dembele in double figures with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while Dembele added three steals to her stuffed stat sheet.

The Tigers shot 32-of-67 (47.8 percent) overall, 10-of-24 (41.7 percent) from 3 and 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) at the free-throw line. Missouri dominated the paint, outscoring the Lady Bears close to the basket 42-18, while also playing great in transition with a 21-2 lead on fast-break points.

Missouri (7-3) is set for the final three non-conference games on the schedule as it hits the road to play Kansas State at 5 p.m. Saturday in St. Joseph.