Mizzou’s season comes to an end in WNIT opener at home

By Elaine Stockdale

The Mizzou Tigers lose 60-58 to Eastern Illinois in the first round of the WNIT at Mizzou Arena Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

The Mizzou Tigers lose 60-58 to Eastern Illinois in the first round of the WNIT at Mizzou Arena Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

With nine seconds left in the game, the Missouri Tigers chance to extend its first postseason appearance since the 2006-07’ Women’s National Invitation Tournament came to a close.

After a time out taken by the Tigers with ten seconds remaining in the game, Missouri had one last possession to tie or win the game. But the Tigers failed to capitalize in front of a 1,551 crowd, falling 60-58 to Eastern Illinois at Mizzou Arena Wednesday night.

With 19 seconds left, Eastern Illinois’ Ta’Kenya Nixon made a shot that put the Panthers two points ahead of Missouri – who held the lead over the Panthers for most of the second half. The Panthers went on an 8-0 run in the last six minutes of the game, bringing the Tigers lead down and closing the gates on Missouri’s season.

Junior Bri Kulas and senior Sydney Crafton were stand outs for the Tigers – each finishing with the highest points scored for Missouri with 12. Kulas also contributed seven rebounds, Crafton with three.

The Tigers shot 25 – 62 from the field and 7 for 20 on 3-pointers. The Tigers finished with 16 assists and 35 rebounds while the Panthers had seven assists and 29 rebounds.

Missouri ended its season at 17 – 15. Wednesday’s loss made it five straight postseason losses for the Tigers.

“Tonight wasn’t our night,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “I hate to think we were tight, but in the first half we did play a bit panicky and a bit rushed, we weren’t as poised as I would have liked us to be.”

Eastern Illinois (20-11)  were regular season champions in the Ohio Valley conference.

“I felt like we had our chances there at the end, I felt like Illinois came in like a veteran team and really had us on our heels,” Pingeton said. “They just came in and took it, there’s a reason they’ve had such a solid year.”

Missouri center Liz Smith managed nine points and eight rebounds for the game, guard Kyley Simmons contributed six points and two rebounds.

Nixon finished with a game high of 27 points, five steals and three rebounds.

“Nixon’s a special player, we didn’t have an answer for her tonight,” Pingeton said.

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