DOWN GOES NUMBER ONE SOUTH CAROLINA! Those are words exclaimed with enthusiastic passion as the Missouri Tigers made program history. They defeated the Gamecocks 70-69 in OT, snapping South Carolina’s 43-game winning streak against unranked teams, per ESPN. This was also the first time Mizzou has ever taken down the top ranked team in the nation.
This win didn’t show the Tigers in full force but nothing fazed them.
24 hours before game time, Coach Pingeton found out that her squad would be down six players, including star Aijha Blackwell and freshman Izzy Higginbottom.
The Negative Nellys would take that information and call the game as a giant loss before tip off. Positive Pollys would see that the rest of their starting lineup and key bench players are still active and wouldn’t jump to any conclusions. The Positive Pollys would be correct.
There is a lot to recap in this historic win so let’s just dive right into it.
- The “next player up” mentality was in full effect.
How do you defeat a South Carolina team full of blue chips from the starters to the bench? Better yet, how do you do it with only eight available players?
You show up when your name is called and grind until the end.
That is exactly what the Tigers did with the seven players Coach P chose to use.
Kiya Dorroh got way more playing time and showed why she is a true asset to this program. She hit two clutch free throws with 2:58 left in the third quarter to give Mizzou a 41-40 lead. Those free throws also accounted for Mizzou’s only bench points. She added three rebounds to her name.
Sara-Rose Smith added two rebounds as well.
Both of those players understood their roles for defensive and hustle purposes and took that to the next level. The “next player up” mentality was ever-so-present in their time on the court, even if it doesn’t appear on the stat sheet.
2. Lauren Hansen and Hayley Frank.
I don’t have a creative title for this takeaway because their names are all you need to understand where I’m about to go with this.
It was highly assumed that without Blackwell, Frank would be Mizzou’s primary scorer. Instead, she was one of Mizzou’s two leading scorers. She had 21 points on 7-8 shooting (87.5%) and 3-4 from beyond-the-arc, her most accurate shooting of the season.
Hansen has continued her stellar play and growth this season and brought it out once again. She created her own shot, drove to the lane, hit a couple threes and tag-teamed with Frank for one of the greatest winning shots in Mizzou women’s basketball history. The shot also debuted at no. 1 on SportsCenter Top 10.
DOWN GOES NO. 1 SOUTH CAROLINA!— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 31, 2021
Missouri stuns the Gamecocks in the final second of OT! pic.twitter.com/Fx69V20Lb5
Without Frank’s pick on Brea Beal, Hansen would not have been able to put her head down and convert the layup to all but seal the deal on the upset.
Respect the screeners, respect the drivers and respect the shooters.
3. Mizzou knows how to take numbers and use it against a team.
South Carolina has the top offense and defense in the NCAA. That is not a doubt. As a reminder, the Gamecocks were averaging 72 points per game and holding their opponents to 51.1.
Not only did Mizzou hold South Carolina to 69, three below their average, they scored 70 which is the highest points the Gamecocks have allowed all season.
An interesting fact: Before their game against Mizzou, South Carolina only allowed 51.1 points per game. The highest they gave up was 63 to then number 9 Oregon. Mizzou dropped 70 on them. pic.twitter.com/NVYEzBM0fh— Lauren Rosenberg ️ ✡️ (@lrosenberg101) December 31, 2021
This goes to show that it doesn’t matter what is written, or typed, on paper. Mizzou flipped South Carolina’s switch and handed them one of their worst defensive performances of the season.
4. MAMA! OOOOOO!
The fourth quarter heroics award has to go to Dembele. She hit two three pointers, one in the corner and one from the right wing, a layup and converted a clutch free throw to give Mizzou a 64-62 lead with 29 seconds left in regulation.
All 11 of her points came in that fourth quarter. She also had two steals to her name and disrupted the passing lanes with a few poked balls.
Without that fourth quarter explosion, Mizzou might not’ve made it to overtime.
5. The two Gamecocks turned Tigers had a game of a lifetime.
LaDazhia Williams and Haley Troup played in Dawn Staley’s program. Williams was there longer. Emotions from South Carolina fans are still ever present, especially when it comes to Troup.
Troup didn’t have the best shooting night, only amassing three points, but she did have five rebounds, four assists and two steals. One clutch play she had did not come on the offense end.
While in overtime, Troup saved the ball from going out of bounds with patience and great court awareness. Frank gathered the ball, passed it to Hansen and Mizzou was on its way to the other side. Except, unknowing to the other four Tigers, they were missing someone.
Coach P called a timeout with Troup down on the opposite baseline holding her calf. She had to be carried off the court to the locker room with 14 seconds left. She returned to the sideline to cheer on the team as Hansen sunk the game winner.
There is so much to say about Williams. She got her first start of the season and played for 38 minutes. Remember, she is still recovering from her knee injury.
Until she was subbed out of the game towards the end, she put everything into this win. She had 12 points and a career high 12 rebounds for her first ever double-double. You couldn’t have pictured her outing against her former school any better than making some personal history.
Aside from the women’s basketball alums who were present in CoMo, two special alums were tuned in. Shout out to Sheryl Crow and Chase Daniel!
The Tigers played gritty, hard and with the hearts of champions. Defeating the number one team in the nation is highly difficult. Defeating them with only eight available players is unthinkable.
Mizzou found a way and deserve all the flowers and more.
With that, I will leave with with some wise words from Haley Troup.
I’m so damn proud of this team and this program….Culture Wins! Down to 8 players and to pull out this win is nothing but grit. I’d go to battle anytime, anywhere with these people! https://t.co/HQQrTYU3Gd— Haley Troup (@haleytroup13) December 31, 2021
Next up: Mizzou travels to Nashville to face Vanderbilt at 2 pm on January 2nd on SECN.