COLUMBIA -- From start to finish, Thursday belonged to Ashton Judd.
Judd totaled 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting overall, including 7-of-9 from beyond the arc to lead the Missouri Tigers to a 98-57 win against the Indiana State Sycamores at Mizzou Arena.
“I was just making sure I let the game come to me,” Judd said. “… We have some high-caliber freshmen and some high-caliber returners and they attract a lot of attention. So as long as I can win my 1-on-1 matchup, I don’t have a lot else to worry about.”
Judd’s scoring started on the first play of the game when she took an assist from Angelique Ngalakulondi for a 3 from the top of the key to put Missouri in front, where it would stay wire-to-wire.
The Sycamores cut the Tiger lead to 5-4 after Bella Finnegan hit a jumper, two of her 12 points, off an assist from Kiley Bliss, but then Judd and the Tigers got running.
Judd grabbed an offensive board and put it back up for a layup, then hit another 3 off an assist from Ngalakulondi before crossing up her defender for a baseline jumper to put the Tigers up 12-4 with 5:34 left in the first.
She kept the run going with a left-wing 3 off a Hannah Linthacum assist to extend the lead to 15-4.
“Somebody said after the game, ‘What got into Judd?’ And I said, ‘The only thing that’s gotten into Judd is her work ethic,’” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “She’s been so consistent back to June, July. … For players that put that kind of work in, things are going to come together for them.”
But the Tigers tried to let the Sycamores back in the game with a few of their 25 turnovers.
The Sycamores cut the lead to 17-11, putting together a 7-0 run with two free throws from Chelsea Cain, a right-corner 3 from Finnegan and a Cain cutting layup off an Asia Donald assist.
A Finnegan pull-up 3 from the right wing brought the Sycamores within 17-14, but the Tigers were able to extend back to a 21-16 advantage at the first break.
“Clearly way too many turnovers,” Pingeton said. “We want to play up-tempo, but we’ve gotta be better about that in a hurry. We’ve got to have better discipline.”
Missouri extended to a 30-21 lead after Grace Slaughter, who had no points in the first quarter, hit a layup in transition with 6:40 left in the second, forcing an Indiana State timeout.
Then Judd got back to work.
She split three defenders and scooped in a layup to make it 32-21 before Slaughter hit two free throws. Judd then fed a post-entry pass to Abby Feit for a floater to make it 36-21 before Mama Dembele hit two free throws and dished an assist to Hayley Frank for a deep 3 from the top of the key to make it 41-21 with 3:23 left in the first half. In all, the Tigers went on a 15-0 run, holding Indiana State scoreless for 5:31 and forcing nine consecutive Sycamore misses.
“Defensively I think we maybe had a little more length on them,” Pingeton said. “I think we did a good job switching defensively and passing players around. The pace we were playing in, with us playing so deep, I think fatigue probably became a bit of a factor, too.”
The run propelled the Tigers to take a 49-28 lead into halftime.
Missouri maintained at least a 19-point lead the rest of the way, with Judd scoring 16 points in the third quarter alone to reach the 31-point mark before the final break.
The offensive onslaught led the Tigers to a 77-44 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Indiana State hit a jumper to start the fourth, but a Slaughter layup through contact and the and-1 free throw pushed the advantage to 80-46. Slaughter ended with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
On the next play, Sarah Linthacum poked away a steal, then Feit dished an assist to Abbey Schreacke for a right-corner 3 directly in front of the Missouri bench. After the shot fell, Schreacke turned to the bench and gave a “night night” celebration inspired by one of her favorite players.
“I’m a (Steph) Curry fan, so I got that from him,” Schreacke said with a laugh.
Schreacke also ended with 17 points, hitting 6-of-8 overall and 4-of-5 from 3 to go with four rebounds and four assists.
Missouri kept the offense moving, ending with a Lucija Milkovic buzzer-beating 3 from the left wing. They were the freshman center’s first career points.
Missouri shot 36-of-62 (58.1 percent) overall, 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) from 3 and 10-of-12 (83.3 percent) from the free-throw line. The Tigers outrebounded the Sycamores 42-33 and totaled 27 assists on 36 made shots.
Indiana State hit 18-of-62 (29 percent) overall, 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) from 3 and 18-of-24 (75 percent) at the free-throw line.
Jefferson City grads Hannah, Sarah and Micah Linthacum all spent time on the court, marking the first time the sisters played an organized game together.
Hannah Linthacum ended with four points on 2-of-3 shooting with three rebounds and two assists in nine minutes. Sarah Linthacum had four points on 2-of-2 shooting with three boards in nine minutes and Micah Linthacum had two rebounds in four minutes.
Missouri (2-0) will play its first road game of the season at 3 p.m. Sunday at Saint Louis.