WIU vs. #16 Missouri: Women’s Basketball RECAP
Last night, November 6, saw the WIU Women’s Basketball team open their season with a home matchup with SEC powerhouse, and 16th ranked, Missouri. They competed early, but ultimately fell, 89-64.
Sophie Cunningham led the way for the Tigers, as her 31 point performance showed why she has been highlighted by many experts as a potential All-American. She lit up the floor with her crafty drives, clever passing, and stellar shooting, and no Western player looked much like keeping up with her. Hers was just a case of a dominant player dominating.
One aspect of her game I was able to see from my spot near press row was her intangibles. She has a real ability to communicate with her teammates and has a knack for finding the ball on defense. It was obvious to me that she is extremely well liked within the Missouri basketball community, and that her teammates and coaches have the utmost trust in her ability to get the job done.
On the Western side of things, there were plenty of positives to take away despite the lopsided loss. Olivia Kaufmann and Annabelle Graettinger had 18 points apiece, and looked like they could form a fierce guard combo with Taylor Higginbotham once Summit League play begins.
Their defense was one thing that I found especially impressive, as despite going up against a much larger and more physical Missouri team, they were still able to fight for rebounds and were able to take the ball away on a number of occasions. That defensive fight will be a key for them as the season progresses.
Obviously, the loss in the home opener hurts, but Western will have plenty to build on through their non-conference schedule. They could absolutely be a tough matchup for Drake, Purdue, and Butler (their next three D1 non-conference opponents).