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Kulas, Eye Combine for 37 in Loss to Alabama


Despite a strong second-half effort, Mizzou women's basketball dropped a tight game, 59-56, to Alabama on Sunday at the annual Play4Kay game. The Tigers donned pink jerseys, supporting the Kay Yow Foundation and promoting breast cancer awareness. Bri Kulas and Morgan Eye combined for 37 points in the loss, led by Eye's game-high 19 points. Mizzou falls to 14-10 to overall and 3-8 in conference play.
Down 32-22 at half, Missouri turned it up a notch after the break. Kulas scored 13 of her 18 points in the final 20 minutes. The senior captain cut the deficit to eight with a three-pointer early in the frame. On the following possession, Eye knifed through the defense and delivered a nifty pass to a wide-open Kulas for a layup. Alabama held a slim 35-29 advantage with 17:17 left on the clock.
The Crimson Tide maintained its two-possession lead until Missouri crafted a game-changing 13-2 run to pull within one point. Eye led the charge, nailing a trey to get the run started. She scored seven points in a five-minute span and finished with a game-high 19 points on the afternoon.
Freshman Kayla McDowell made her presence known down low in the second half. She recorded her first double-double of SEC play, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. McDowell's free throws at the 7:40 mark gave Mizzou a 47-46 lead, its first of the game.
Alabama battled back, as the two teams traded buckets in the final minutes. After Eye buried her fourth three-pointer to hand the Tigers a 52-50 advantage, the Crimson Tide answered with a trey of its own.
Kulas earned a trip to the foul line and knocked down two free throws to give Missouri a 54-53 lead, but Alabama finished the game on a 6-2 run.
The Tigers get a week off before hitting the road on Feb. 16 to face Auburn. The game tips off at 2 p.m.
Postgame Notes
- Sunday's game vs. Alabama supports the Play4Kay initiative, raising awareness and funds for breast cancer.
- Alabama is only the second unranked team that Mizzou has played in the last eight games.
- Bri Kulas recorded her 12th consecutive game scoring in double figures, finishing with 18 points.
- Morgan Eye's four 3-pointers extend her lead for total three-pointers made in conference play. She leads the SEC with 37 threes.
- In addition, Eye's four 3-pointers place her in a tie for second place in the NCAA for total 3-pointers made. She and Ayana Avery from Radford both have 79 on the year.
- Morgan Eye led all scorers with 19 points. She has led the Tigers in scoring eight times this season.
- Mizzou held Alabama scoreless for 4:25 in the second half, limiting the Tide to 0-of-7 shooting from the floor while forcing three turnovers on 10 consecutive possessions.
- Kayla McDowell snagged 11 rebounds, giving her three games on the season with at least 10 rebounds.
- In addition to the 11 rebounds, McDowell scored 12 points, giving her two double-doubles on the season. Today's against Alabama was her first double-double in conference play.
- Mizzou had a season-high 2,356 fans attend Sunday's game.
Mizzou Head Coach Robin Pingeton

Opening statement...
"I really appreciate the fans that came out tonight. We talk so much about trying to get that sixth man. This one hurts quite a bit. We felt like our backs were against the wall. I felt like we came out in that first half and played tight. I felt like everything seemed to pile on top of each other; everything got magnified. We took one possession and carried it over to the next possession. We had a chance at halftime to regroup a little bit and just talk about the mentality that you've got to play with for the next 20 minutes. I thought our girls had a good second half of basketball, but in this league you've got to be able to put 40 minutes together."

On how to jump start the offense...
"This is a really invested group and they have worked so hard and they want this so bad and they understand that we're trying to build a program. I felt bad for them at the beginning of the game because you could tell they were a step slow on everything. At some point, you just have to relax and have some fun out there and play the game. I think our offensive woes out there tonight are a little bit different than what they have been. Tonight we actually had some really good looks and we just weren't able to knock them down."

On the three post player strategy...
"It's something we toyed with in practice. We run a lot of motion, but we do have some sets and entries. I think it can be challenging for some of our personnel to learn multiple positions, so we haven't had a chance to look at that a lot, but we felt like tonight that we were really struggling from the perimeter."

On competing during the final few weeks...
"We're not going to quit. We're going to keep fighting and keep working hard. I think it's important for our staff and our players to remain focused. I'm a long way from surrendering."

Mizzou Freshman Kayla McDowell

On what made the difference in the game...
"I don't think it was the last few minutes, it was the whole game. We talk all the time about every possession counting and that's what it was."

On playing three post players...
"I think we have a little bit of size with all three of us combined. And Bri Kulas is a great shooter; it helped having her outside because it gave me and Jordan [Frericks] a little more room inside."

Mizzou Junior Morgan Eye

On what it will take to jumpstart the offense...
"For me, I felt like I got extremely good looks and I'm a junior now, so I expect to knock those down. I've got to do a better job of knocking down shots, and I think all of us do. We put a lot of time in the gym so we've got to knock them down."

On the difference in the second half...
"We had more of an emphasis on post touches and not just taking one pass and then shooting a three; maybe a little bit more of a rhythm shot."

On the first half struggles...
"I think we all just want it so bad. I know, for me, I got some really good looks that I'm not used to always getting - really wide open looks. When I miss it, I get very frustrated about it because I expect to make them because that's my role on the team. I think there's a little bit of frustration from that aspect because we knocked down threes but we have to make sure that we don't let our offense dictate our defense."

Alabama Head Coach Kristy Curry

Opening Statement...
"I am just really proud of our grittiness on the road today and finding a way to make a few plays down the stretch. It was a great game. This Missouri team plays the game so hard and shoots the ball so well and so much fun to watch. We are really fortunate to sneak out of here with a win. This is a hard place to play and I have experienced that in the Big 12. There was a great crowd today and I appreciate all the support of Play4Kay and we are just really fortunate."

On the solid defensive effort in the first half...
"I thought that early we had to make sure we did not give their shooters a lot of confidence. We wanted to have a hand in their face and change our defenses in the first half. I thought that was able to keep them off step for a second and find a way to have them miss a few. We are fortunate. They still got some great looks, but we were just fortunate."

On junior, Sharin Rivers' fifth straight start...
"She is just toughness. She has had one of the best junior college coaches in the country in Madonna Thompson. You can get after her and she is not scared of anything. It is kind of one of those things that dynamite comes in small packages and she just has really brought toughness and a level of no fear to our team lately. It makes a big difference to our team on the road or at home. She is just a gritty, little player."

On improving before the SEC Tournament...
"We just have to continue to be better. Our goal everyday is to be better than we were the day before and to win the day. We talk every day at Alabama from the moment we stepped on campus about win the day in the classroom, the court and the community. I have just been really pleased about how this team has rallied behind the things we have asked them to do. You are starting to see that carry over into the 94 feet."






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