MO State HS Sports

Women’s Basketball Powers Past Belmont in Season Opener

Women's Basketball Team Huddle

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri Women’s Basketball team opened its 2023-24 season with a 72-61 victory over Belmont Monday afternoon inside Mizzou Arena. The Tigers’ winning ways were spectated by 2,500 elementary and middle school students as part of a partnership between Columbia Public Schools and Mizzou Athletics.

Head coach Robin Pingeton began her 14th season at the helm of the program, winning her 13th season opener and her 226th overall with the Tigers.

Graduate student and preseason All-SEC First Team selection Hayley Frank launched her fifth campaign playing for the black-and-gold. In her 115th career game, Frank got right back to business, tallying 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting, while also gathering seven rebounds. She entered the season ninth on Mizzou’s all-time scoring list at 1,575 and now sits just seven points behind Evan Unrau (2000-04) for eighth on the coveted index.

The Tiger newcomers, who accounted for all 18 points in the opening period, finished with 32 of Missouri’s 72 points, highlighted by freshman Grace Slaughter, who collected 10 points and 10 rebounds in her collegiate debut. The highly-touted rookie, who ranked as the 53rd overall recruit in the 2023 high school class, became the first Tiger freshman to record a double-double in her first game since Sophie Cunningham had 23 points and 10 rebounds against Missouri State on Nov. 13, 2015.

Mama Dembele controlled the game from start to finish in the first game of her senior season. The Spaniard finished with 15 points to co-lead the team in scoring, while contributing five assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals.

Missouri opened the contest equipped with stout defense as it took the visitor Bruins 4:03 to find the scoreboard. Belmont made just 4-of-15 attempts in the opening period while recording just one assist to seven turnovers.

The potent defensive start allowed Mizzou to stretch its lead to 11-5 in two minutes till the break. Both offenses then started heating up as both squads traded threes and free throws. A layup by Hannah Linthacum in the closing seconds ended the period as Mizzou took an 18-12 lead into the second quarter.

Hayley Frank opened the second stanza to increase the Tiger lead to eight before Belmont went on a run of their own, outscoring Mizzou 11-4 over the next 3:47 and closing the gap to just one point. The two squads then traded buckets again in a back-and-forth affair, but it was the Tigers who took a three-point lead into the intermission.

Mizzou got out to a quick start to begin the third quarter. A fast break layup from Frank jump started a 14-1 run that saw Missouri make six of their next seven field goal attempts, opening the scoring to 44-30. From then on, the Tigers managed the game for the remainder of its runtime.

Heralding an 11-point advantage going into the final period, the Bruins did manage to make a couple of last-gasp efforts of a comeback. Back-to-back buckets early in the fourth brought Missouri’s advantage down to single-digits, and eventually, a three-pointer from Belmont’s Blair Schoenwald made it a 59-53 ballgame with five minutes remaining.

The Tigers weathered the comeback in the closing minutes, nailing seven of its final nine free throw attempts to secure victory.

Missouri managed to shoot 40.6 percent on the day despite nailing just three of its 21 attempts from deep. As a team, MU had an 80.9 percent clip from the charity stripe. The Tigers held Belmont to 33.3% shooting on the day and just 19.2 percent from beyond the arc. Additionally, the Bruins converted just 12 of its 20 free throw attempts.


Missouri hosts Indiana State on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Mizzou Arena. The opening tip is slated for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on SEC Network+.


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This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics