What we learned from Mizzou women's 87-85 overtime loss No. 12 LSU

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  • Robin Pingeton
    American basketball coach
Missouri's Aijha Blackwell celebrates during the Tigers' game at No. 12 LSU on Jan. 13, 2022. Blackwell recorded her 12th double double against LSU.
Missouri's Aijha Blackwell celebrates during the Tigers' game at No. 12 LSU on Jan. 13, 2022. Blackwell recorded her 12th double double against LSU.

Two weeks to the day when Missouri women's basketball stunned No. 1 South Carolina, the Tigers couldn't find the same magic against No. 12 LSU.

Khayla Pointer put LSU up two points with five seconds left, and Mama Dembele's last-second layup was blocked as LSU held on 87-85 Thursday night.

Lauren Hansen led a hot-handed Missouri team that roared back to force overtime, as Hansen was perhaps an inch away from being a late-game hero yet again.

Missouri (13-5 overall, 2-2 SEC) outplayed LSU (16-2, 4-1) in Baton Rouge in the second half, and was in prime position for another SEC upset to provide another statement upset for coach Robin Pingeton this season.

"I feel like this game was a little bit of a chess match," Pingeton said. "I didn't we did a very good job in the first half of exploiting some tough match-up they could've had with us on the perimeter. But I feel like in the second half, we played with much better pace."

Missouri rode that electric second half to force the extra period, and that was impressive considering where Missouri was to start the latter half.

LSU used its size to forge ahead at the beginning of the game and give MU fits with LaDazhia Williams unable to play while nursing a groin injury.

Missouri's Hayley Frank (43) drives past Auburn's Honesty Scott-Grayson during a game Thursday at Mizzou Arena. Frank scored 15 points in the win.
Missouri's Hayley Frank (43) drives past Auburn's Honesty Scott-Grayson during a game Thursday at Mizzou Arena. Frank scored 15 points in the win.

That allowed LSU to go up by as many as 13 points and led 44-33 at halftime. Missouri's offense struggled to get going, but the defense kept the game within striking distance.

Missouri turned into the aggressor in the third quarter and cut all the way into the LSU lead. That set up a tense fourth quarter where LSU and MU traded leads and buckets in the final minutes of the game.

That set up Hansen for a potential game-winner, but it rolled off the basket. That sent the game to overtime where Aijha Blackwell was arguably the best player on the court, even with four fouls. Blackwell fouled out with 31 seconds remaining.

Blackwell recorded her 12th double-double of the season, which leads the nation in women's college basketball. She finished the game with 26 points and 16 rebounds.

"Our kids were really dialed in, they understood the game plan," Pingeton said. "It was more settling in and playing with better pace."

Here's what we learned from Missouri's 87-85 loss to No. 12 LSU on Thursday night.

The Missouri bench celebrates after a basket in the second half against Auburn on Thursday at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers' reserves scored 13 points compared to Auburn's two.
The Missouri bench celebrates after a basket in the second half against Auburn on Thursday at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers' reserves scored 13 points compared to Auburn's two.

Tigers showcase their fight

Last Sunday, Pingeton didn't hold back in saying Arkansas outplayed her Tigers. That wasn't the case Thursday.

Missouri trailed by 11 at halftime and made it a two-point game with five minutes to play in the third.

MU got stops on defense, picked up their pace on offense and forced LSU turnovers in an inspired display which exemplifies how hard Missouri can play under Pingeton this season.

Although LSU pushed ahead early, Missouri never let the score get out of hand. That's the difference between Sunday afternoon and Thursday evening, as when Missouri made a run it was within a score.

That fight continued into the fourth, as the collective hustle for MU led to open looks for Hayley Frank. She connected on six 3-pointers and finished the game with 19 points.

Another key to the second-half turnaround was how Missouri cut down its turnovers.

Missouri committed 10 first-half turnovers, but only two in the second half. MU committed three in overtime, but that didn't affect the outcome of the game. Credit Missouri for ensuring those turnovers didn't allow LSU to pull ahead for good.

MU might have taken the loss. But, Thursday proved that last Sunday's performance against Arkansas was a faux pas and not the norm.

"All of this is a great experience for our players," Pingeton said. "There's a lot of teachable moments in this game that we can learn from."

Missouri's Lauren Hansen (1) drives toward the basket against South Carolina on Thursday night at Mizzou Arena.
Missouri's Lauren Hansen (1) drives toward the basket against South Carolina on Thursday night at Mizzou Arena.

A sizzling Hansen is a difference-maker

Hansen showed off how she not only affects the scoreboard, but she can also affect the rest of her teammates.

Missouri brought heightened energy in the third quarter, and Hansen was the catalyst. She hit a 3-pointer and scored five points in the third, which keyed the Tigers' comeback.

In the end, Hansen went scorched earth. She hit 7 of her 10 3-pointers while also finding ways to score inside the arc, too.

Hansen found ways to cut LSU's lead with baskets, but her 3-point shooting is what brings the most energy and physically shows the coursing momentum.

That momentum Hansen created carried over to Frank, which carried into the hustle on defense and effort to dive for loose balls.

She came an inch within being another buzzer-beating hero, but her shot to win in regulation rimmed out. That sent the game to overtime.

A big reason why Hansen was so sharp from beyond the arc was how LSU guarded the post, making it difficult for MU to consistently feed Blackwell and Frank the ball down low.

That was part of the chess match Pingeton played with Mulkey. The post was closed off, but the perimeter wasn't. Credit Hansen and Frank for adapting and their 3-pointers on the road.

Missouri continues to adapt

It's always something, isn't it?

Since the beginning of the season, the 2021-2022 season has thrown different types of obstacles at the Tigers which has forced MU to find ways to adjust.

The most notable example was how COVID-19 protocols left Missouri with just eight players against South Carolina. MU didn't have any other options on Dec. 30 aside from just playing its heart out in the massive upset.

More: Kwiecinski: If you're not paying attention to Mizzou women's basketball, you should be now

Against Arkansas, MU had to play without Troup and Williams. Against LSU, Williams missed while nursing her groin injury.

Williams' absence hurt the Tigers' against LSU, as the Bayou Tigers won the rebounding battle 45-31 with their size advantage. Blackwell grabbed her usual selection of rebounds, but it was tough for other MU players to find positioning and fight for rebounds with the smaller lineup.

More: Blum: Mizzou women's basketball embraced Robin Pingeton's mentality, and it's paying off

Still, it was impressive to see how the team adjusted to stay competitive on the road against one of the best coaches and best teams in college basketball.

With Williams out, MU's outside shooting shined bright in Baton Rouge. It was an example of how far the team has come since June, let alone since last season.

MU is proving this team won't be kept down for long by any obstacle. That's a phenomenal trait for Missouri to have as it keeps pace in the SEC.

"The last six months have been great for us," Pingeton said.

Chris Kwiecinski is the sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune, overseeing University of Missouri and Boone County sports coverage. Follow him on Twitter @OchoK_ and contact him at CKwiecinsk@gannett.com, or 435 414-3261.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: What we learned from Mizzou women's overtime contest at No. 12 LSU

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