By Micah Wright
Missouri came into Sunday’s game as losers of four of its last five games, having lost each of the past two games by at least 15 points. In a game without their leading scorer, junior forward Ladazhia Williams, the Tigers needed to find a spark. They quickly found out that the spark was going to come from the three point line.
Florida came into the game forcing opponents to shoot just 25.8 percent from the three-point line, but it failed to have any success against the Tigers’ great shooters. It was fitting that senior Shannon Dufficy hit the first three point shot of the game on Senior Day to set the tone for Missouri early. Her teammates fed off of that immediately, as five of the Tigers’ first six baskets were from long distance.
Dufficy, her fellow senior Shug Dickson and Hayley Frank each made three triples in the first two quarters. Missouri shot 10-15 from deep in the first half, and its 30 points from three-pointers alone was as much as Florida had as a team at the intermission, as they led 45-30.
When it seemed impossible to repeat the Tigers’ first half hot streak, they hit seven more threes in the third quarter. Hayley Frank scored 13 of her team-high 26 points in the third frame, and Missouri extended its lead to 77-55 heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth, Shannon Dufficy hit the team’s 18th and final three-pointer to tie the Missouri record and SEC record for the most made three-pointers in a game. Shannon scored a career high 19 points and was one of many high scorers for Missouri.
Florida didn’t go away though, like its shown all season, and the Gators cut Missouri’s lead to 86-76 with three and a half minutes left. Kiara Smith had quite a day for the Gators to keep them in it, scoring 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The Tigers responded with a run of their own to put the nail in the coffin, as they held on for a 96-80 victory.
The win was Missouri’s first home conference win of the season and it improves its record to 8-9 on the year and 4-9 in SEC play.
While it was the 18 made three-pointers that stands out the most, coach Robin Pingeton had another stat in mind that she felt was a big part in the victory.
“Offensively we played as well as we have all year,” Pingeton said. “The stat that stands out to me the most is the 22 assists to 10 turnovers. That’s a stat that coaches like.”
Missouri was able to share the ball to create three-point opportunities all game long, while limiting turnovers She also expressed how happy she was for her two seniors, who each combined for 39 points.
Aijha Blackwell had another dominant game for Missouri, with 21 points and 14 rebounds, for her 11th double-double of the season. The Tigers wouldn’t have gotten the job done without seniors Shug Dickson (20 points and 6 assists) and Shannon Dufficy (19 points and four threes), who played amazing on their special day.
Pingeton’s team looks to keep it rolling on Thursday night at home against Tennessee at 7:00 p.m.
Edited by Emma Moloney