With two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Jordan Frericks secured a defensive rebound that led to a Sophie Cunningham 3-pointer. The points were nice, but the milestone that the senior forward eclipsed was far greater.
Frericks had grabbed her 1,000th career rebound, making her just the third player in program history with 1,000 points and 1,000 boards. Her efforts helped No. 11 Missouri (23-5, 11-4 SEC) rout Vanderbilt 83-68.
Bri Porter, Kayla Michael and Frericks were honored shortly before tipoff for senior night. Each player walked out to halfcourt with their families where they received flowers and posed for pictures.
“I think it was big for a lot of reasons,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said after the game. “Most importantly it was big for our seniors, to send them off from the last guaranteed home game.”
On a night meant for the seniors, it was junior guard Lauren Aldridge who stole the show. She hit four consecutive 3s in the opening five minutes of play to give Missouri a nine-point lead.
Aldridge finished with 15 points and six assists. Frericks had 16 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, nearly coming away with a triple double. Amber Smith drained five 3s and scored a game-high 19 points.
Frericks didn’t know that she was one assist away until she was subbed out with under a minute to go. “I wanted to leave her out there so bad,” Pingeton said. “But at the same time I wanted her to get a chance to be recognized. What a heck of a night.”
Aldridge scored the Tigers’ first nine points, but it was the fourth triple that proved she was on fire. She pulled up in transition after Mizzou forced a Commodores (6-23, 2-13) turnover, and the ball bounced around the rim three times before finally falling in.
Not to be outdone, junior forward Cunningham scored nine points as a part of a 14-0 Missouri run that blew the game open. Still, Aldridge managed to drain her fifth 3-pointer in the middle of her teammate’s outburst.
The Tigers poured in a whopping 35 points and recorded 12 assists in the first quarter while going seven for 10 from three. Vanderbilt trailed by 18 points at the end of the period and needed an absolute collapse by Mizzou if it hoped for victory.
That didn’t happen.
Not as many threes fell for Missouri, but it still led 50-33 at the end of the first half. Outside of Aldridge’s hot streak, Frericks had already put together an excellent stat line with eight points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Senior guard Rachel Bell willed the Commodores back to a respectable 13-point deficit with a self-engineered 7-3 run to start the second half. The Tigers, however, wouldn’t allow their lead to get any smaller.
Cierra Porter scored two straight buckets to push their advantage back to 15 points twice, and then a Frericks layup made it 59-42. Another Frericks finish and a Smith three put Mizzou up 20 points, its largest lead of the night. The Tigers cruised to victory from there.
After the game Frericks was swarmed by her teammates as she was acknowledged for the 1,000 rebound benchmark. “I was kind of embarrassed,” she said. “It’s kinda cool. It’s not something I really focused on, I’m just excited to keep going and continue this journey with this team.”
Missouri closes out its regular season on the road against No. 17 Texas A&M at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The SEC Tournament begins on Feb. 28 in Nashville. The Tigers currently sit at fourth place in the SEC as No. 19 Georgia holds the tiebreaker.