Cierra Porter hadn’t been herself since missing two games in mid-January with flu-like symptoms. In the three games since her return, she’d averaged just three points and three rebounds per game.
Early Monday night, it quickly became apparent that Porter had recovered from her illness. The junior forward knocked down back-to-back threes to start the game, then added a jumper as a part of a self-engineered 8-2 run.
Porter led No. 15 Missouri (18-5, 6-4 SEC) the rest of the way, scoring a career-high 27 points. The Tigers needed all of them in a 66-64 win over Florida (10-13, 2-8). Porter also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists, while Jordan Frericks added 18 points of her own.
Mizzou’s problem was that the rest of the team struggled to find the bottom of the net. Outside of Porter, the Tigers shot just 26 percent in the first half and mustered only 11 points.
The Gators took advantage, going on a 9-2 run midway through the second quarter and taking a 25-24 lead on a Paulina Hersler triple. Following a couple Delicia Washington free throws, Missouri tied it on a Porter freebie and a Sophie Cunningham layup.
Washington pushed her team back ahead with a three, but Porter answered by grabbing her own offensive rebound for a tough put-back in traffic. After Florida scored on a layup of its own, Porter casually laid in an and-1 to tie things up at 32 right before halftime.
MU v. FLA 2/5/18
Cierra Porter following Missouri's slim 66-64 win versus Florida: We knew we needed to win this one....we have to approach each game like it's the biggest game of the year. Full Recap: https://www.rockmnation.com/2018/2/5/16976364/missouri-florida-womens-hoops-recap-cierra-porterPosted by Rock M Nation on Monday, February 5, 2018
It was a back and forth affair at the start of the third quarter, but Florida’s Dyandria Anderson converted a four-point play and hit another 3-pointer to create some separation for the Gators. Porter scored two layups to make it a three-point game, but other Tigers continued to struggle.
Cunningham was particularly absent, having scored just two points on four shots near the end of the third period. But following a Washington jumper, Cunningham made a backdoor cut and scored a layup on a nice feed from Porter.
From there, Mizzou got a stop, leading to another Cunningham bucket. Then, she laid it in for the third straight time to put her team back up, 47-45, going into the fourth quarter.
It was a game of 3-pointers, and the fourth quarter started with three consecutive triples. Two of those came from Anderson and Washington, giving Florida a one-point lead.
Frericks made two layups as Missouri quickly retook a one-point advantage of its own. The redshirt senior forward finished two more times, putting the Tigers on her back and creating some separation as she scored 10 straight.
A Porter finish and Cunningham jumper pushed the Mizzou lead back to five points twice, but the Gators simply weren’t going to go down easy. Funda Nakkasoglu hit a 3-pointer to bring Florida within two with a minute left in the game.
Jordan Chavis turned the ball over on the next possession, giving the Gators a chance to tie or win the game with 12 seconds left. But Haley Lorenzen’s contested 3-pointer fell short, and Missouri ended its three-game losing streak.
Next up for Mizzou: a Thursday visit from Kentucky (12-12, 4-6).