South Carolina fans gave Missouri quite the exit in the Tigers’ 64-54 loss Sunday in Columbia, S.C., when Gamecocks fans allegedly spit on the players as they exited the court.
Former MU women’s basketball player Sierra Michaelis, who was at the game, posted on Twitter that fans spit on the court.
As Missouri coach Robin Pingeton addressed the media on Tuesday for the first time since the game, she did not deny that spitting occurred, and took a long pause. She appeared to be holding back tears while speaking.
“Let me choose my words wisely,” she said. “I was really disappointed with some things that transpired. There is no place in our game for that. Fans gotta be better. All around. Our side, their side, everybody’s side.
“These are daughters, playing a game that they love to play. And there’s certainly some things that were really unfortunate that transpired. Not only verbally and some other things that you alluded to. It’s really unfortunate. You’ve got two passionate fan bases; just have to clean it up a little bit.”
A team spokesperson told The Star that the program has “expressed their concerns to the league” about the incident.
Camera angles from the game were unable to show whether or not the incident happened since the final shots of ESPN2’s broadcast showed the players shaking hands at the end of the game.
Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk commented on the situation Tuesday during a radio appearance on KTGR, a Columbia radio station, and said he found the situation “kind of unhealthy.”
“We had, you know, players spit on, and called the ‘n-word,’ and things like that,” he said. I mean it was not a good environment, and unfortunate I think, you know, Coach (Dawn) Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere, and it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that.”
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner responded to Sterk’s comments, saying that the game had extra security for Missouri and interviewed staff and security personnel to look into the allegations. He said he was unable to confirm the alleged behavior from his own investigation.
When asked about the incident, MU star junior forward Sophie Cunningham neither confirmed nor denied the incident and simply directed questions about it toward Pingeton.
No. 15 Missouri’s next game is at home against No. 2 Mississippi State on Thursday. The Bulldogs are 22-0 on the season. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.