Bramlage Coliseum fell completely silent Wednesday evening as halftime arrived.
After the Wildcats pounced on the Missouri Tigers early in the first half and seemed to take control of the game, their lead and momentum suddenly vanished.
The Tigers used a 19-4 run to swiftly work their way back into the game and steal both the Wildcats’ momentum and lead.
With a silent Bramlage crowd, the Wildcats walked into the locker room at halftime trailing 27-24.
During the Tiger run to close out the first half, the Wildcats managed only four points in the final 7:39 of the first half. The Wildcats finished the first half shooting 34 percent on 28 shot attempts, after making six of their first 12 shot attempts to open the game and take a 15-2 lead over Missouri.
“I felt like we were getting good looks, just not finishing,” head coach Deb Patterson said. “I wasn’t disappointed with the looks we were getting. So it wasn’t as big of a concern if it might have been if we had been playing real poorly there.”
However, the Wildcats would stay in the fight behind junior forward Ashley Sweat, who had a game-high 25 points and resisted the Tigers continued pressure, sealing a 58-54 victory.
The victory didn’t come without a tight battle for the Wildcats (19-2, 6-2 Big 12 Conference). The Tigers (10-11, 1-7 Big 12) maintained a steady offensive attack in the second half and kept two and three possessions ahead of the Wildcats.
It wasn’t until Sweat hit a 3-pointer from straight away with 6:25 remaining in the game that the Wildcats would regain the lead they lost in the first half.
“I think it’s all about Shalee [Lehning] penetrating and getting to the rim, which opens up the outside, and then it’s up to us shooters to knock them down,” Sweat said. “I think that’s what I like to do. It’s really good to be able to step up and hit that shot.”
Sweat anchored the Wildcats in the final stretch as she sank two free throws after getting fouled, to give the Wildcats a three-point lead with 16 seconds remaining in the game.
“Ashley Sweat I thought was just tremendous in asserting herself both on the boards and at the free-throw line and literally making some big play shots in critical game situations,” Patterson said. “I think that is what separated us a little bit down the stretch.”
Following the victory, the Wildcats will travel to Waco, Texas, on Saturday to take on the No. 8 Baylor Bears. The Wildcats are 2-2 in conference road games this season.
“It’s a really neat thing [that] on any given night in this league anything can happen,” Patterson said. “We’re not going to give an inch to anybody. And nobody is going to give us an inch. We’re going down there with the mindset of being as competitive as possible and bringing our best game as of today, and we will see what that means when it’s all said and done.”