The #13 Missouri Tigers defeated the #11 Tennessee Lady Volunteers 77-73 in front of a record crowd at Mizzou Arena on Sunday. Sophie Cunningham led all players with 32 points and went three of six from beyond the arc. Jordan Frericks also scored 16 and grabbed seven rebounds.
Tennessee came out of the gate cold, shooting only 23.5 percent from the floor in the first quarter. Missouri took advantage and jumped out to a 15-point lead early in the second quarter.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick relied on the Lady Volunteers’ deep bench to keep pace with the Tigers. Warlick brought four players off the bench to start the second quarter. The bench was led by Anastasia Hayes, who scored 10 points. Cheridene Green was another key player for the Lady Vols, scoring four points and coming up with a statement block late in the first half. Senior Jaime Nared led the team with 25 points.
To begin the second half the Lady Volunteers applied a full court press that almost broke Missouri. The Tigers’ shooting went cold and the team only scored seven times in the third quarter. This allowed Tennessee to retake the lead. Robin Pingeton’s squad held the line and turned the game into a back-and-forth with the Lady Volunteers.
What secured victory for the Tigers was not floor shooting, but the charity stripe. Despite poor shooting from the floor, fouls put Tigers on the line six times to the game, allowing the Tigers to score another 10 points.
The Lady Volunteers were not so lucky. Freshman Rennia Davis had an opportunity to tie it late with a set of three free throws but missed two. Nared said “she’s going to have so many opportunities…at the end of the day we have so much basketball left.” Warlick said “[the free throws] didn’t lose us the basketball game.” Nared said that a lack of offensive aggression was to blame for the loss.
Both teams reserved praise for the program record crowd of 11,092. Cunningham said playing in front that big was” something I’ve dreamed of my entire life” but admitted to being nervous.
Missouri is now 22-5 overall and 10-4 in SEC play. Tennessee is now 22-6 overall and 9-5 in the SEC.
The Tigers’ next game is against Vanderbilt on Thursday, February 22 at Mizzou Arena.