Florida Gulf Coast doesn't have much height. Everyone on the roster is shorter than 6 feet tall. But the Eagles, under coaching wizard Karl Smesko, know how to use that to their advantage. They drove and drove and drove against Missouri, and the Tigers simply couldn't stop them.
The No. 12 seed Eagles joined in on the mid-major fun Saturday, upsetting the No. 5 seed Tigers 80-70. Earlier in the day, No. 11 seeds Central Michigan and Buffalo also moved into the second round.
The Eagles are known for 3-point shooting, and they made seven treys Saturday. But they also used their smaller stature and quickness to drive and get fouled. They didn't shoot great at the line, but good enough, going 23-for-37.
Florida Gulf Coast won the Atlantic Sun regular-season and tournament titles, and the Eagles were able to frustrate the Tigers throughout the game as Missouri's perimeter defense was continually challenged.
Junior Sophie Cunningham led Missouri with 35 points, tying her season high. She made 10 of 16 shots from the field and 11 of 16 from the line. Missouri was the second SEC team to lose Saturday; No. 6 seed LSU fell to Central Michigan.
How it was won: The Eagles' offense took advantage of mismatches all game. They also were able to get the Tigers into foul trouble early as the officials called the game tightly, with 30 fouls on Missouri and 26 on Florida Gulf Coast. Post players Jordan Frericks and Cierra Porter fouled out for Missouri, and Rosemarie Julien and Erica Nelson fouled out for the Eagles.
Florida Gulf Coast also did a good job taking Missouri away from what it wanted to do offensively. Other than Cunningham, no Tiger scored in double figures. Missouri was 4-for-24 from behind the arc.
Player of the game: Redshirt senior guard China Dow led the strong bench effort for Florida Gulf Coast, scoring 21 points. The Eagles got 38 points from their reserves.
Stat of the game: Missouri had 16 turnovers to nine for Florida Gulf Coast, and most of the giveaways for the Eagles came late. Their ability to take care of the ball helped give them a lead they were able to hold on to.
What's next: Florida Gulf Coast (31-4) faces the winner of No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 13 Gonzaga. Missouri finishes its season 24-8.