After a long night, Missouri survives scare from Florida, 66-64

Cierra Porter’s 27 points and Jordan Frericks’ 18 were just enough for the Tigers to hang on.

After a controversial foul called on Missouri freshman Cierra Porter, Coach Robin Pingeton aggressively addresses the referee while the ref reports Porter's number for the foul.

Mizzou women’s basketball walked into Mizzou Arena on Monday night to play a Florida Gators team that was just 2-7 in conference play heading into the night and 10-12 overall.

One would think that after two hardfought road losses to ranked Southeastern Conference opponents and a down-to-the-wire home loss to the No. 2 team in the nation — all in the span of one week — that the No. 15 Tigers could turn a matchup with this Gator team into a cakewalk.

However, that was far from the case, as Mizzou was only able to eke out a win over Florida, 66-64.

In postgame, head coach Robin Pingeton referenced the Tigers’ tough stretch of games, saying she made a point to her players that the stretch was far from over.

“You’re in an SEC season, so no matter who you’re playing, it doesn’t stop,” Pingeton said. “Florida’s been in every game they played in the SEC, so we knew it was going to be a tough battle for us.”

The Tigers started out Monday’s game in usual fashion, taking advantage of a hot start from junior Cierra Porter and getting out to a 6-point lead early in the first quarter.

Moving forward, however, things were back and forth until Florida took control early in the second half by holding onto a lead for 7:03 in the third quarter.

It wasn’t until the final quarter of play that the Tigers regained the momentum they had found so early on.

The fourth quarter was a turnaround in terms of individual performances from the Tigers. Junior Sophie Cunningham, who had just 4 points heading into the fourth quarter, finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and redshirt senior Jordan Frericks, who had just 6 points before the fourth, finished with 18.

Porter, who had a dominant performance of her own, acknowledged how glad she was Frericks was able to contribute the way she did Monday night.

“I’m so happy for Jordan because I know how hard she works,” Porter said. “She’s capable of doing that both halves, every game, and that was just huge for her and huge for our team. We don’t win that game without her.”

Porter’s performance was one bright spot for Mizzou. She finished the night with 27 points and eight rebounds.

Porter, who totaled 9 points over the previous three games, gave all the credit for her performance to those around her.

“I’ve kind of been on a little slump,” Porter said. “But my teammates and my coaches just keep instilling confidence in me that I could do it.”

Even with the individual turnarounds, Florida kept things close down to the wire. The Tigers found themselves down 2 with the final shot and 12 seconds left.

Pingeton had a simple game plan for her team heading into the final possession: Don’t give up a 3.

“I thought we contested hard, but we said absolutely no 3s,” Pingeton said. “We’re not giving up a 3-point play going to the rim, old-fashioned 3. We just said, worst case scenario, it’s overtime, but we are not getting beat by a 3.”

The Tigers next game will be against Kentucky on Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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