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Missouri Overcomes First Half Struggles, Defeats Vanderbilt On The Road

Every player participated and the team got the dub!

Mizzou guard Aijha Blackwell (33) Mizzou Tigers vs. Georgia at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO. on Monday, January 17, 2022.
Mikayla Schmidt/Mizzou Athletics

Missouri is back in the win column after defeating Vanderbilt in Nashville 66-52. The Tigers desperately needed a win after their recent three game slide against no. 13 Georgia on Monday, no. 11 LSU in OT last Thursday, and Arkansas the game before that.

This game didn’t start with all sunshines and rainbows for the Tigers, however. Mizzou struggled to get things rolling on offense after Hayley Frank hit a layup 54 seconds into the game. After that, it took Mizzou until the 5:03 mark in the first quarter to hit another bucket, a three courtesy of…you guessed it…Frank. Nothing was going as planned for the Tigers as they ended the first quarter leading Vandy 10-9.

The second quarter started off well. Kiya Dorroh hit a jumper and Frank hit a three shortly after. Mama Dembele was left pretty much wide-open and drained a three herself. A pretty great shot on her birthday.

The Tigers and Commodores traded some jumpers but it was Mizzou who took the 27-23 lead to end the first half.

The third quarter was when things started to get going for Mizzou. Haley Troup came out swinging with a three pointer and Lauren Hansen hit a jumper for a 5-0 Mizzou run in just 41 seconds, forcing Vandy to call a time out.

After being shut down in the first half, Aijha Blackwell got her first bucket at the 7:15 mark and helped bring much needed momentum to Mizzou. The Tigers went on an 8-0 after that, and by the end of the third quarter, Mizzou had outscored Vanderbilt 23-15. A pretty decent start after struggling in the first half.

To start the fourth quarter, Troup hit a layup and converted the and-one. Frank and Blackwell tag-teamed to trade buckets for a majority of the fourth quarter until Hansen made a layup. With one second left in the game and Mizzou up 12, Blackwell was fouled and she converted her two free throws. Mizzou got its much-needed win, 66-52.

Here are the takeaways from the win.

1. The bench was the true x-factor.

After hardly using her bench in the loss against Georgia, Coach Pingeton changed up her gameplan.

With LaDazhia Williams back in action, Mizzou had a formidable threat down low to help with defense and post offense. That was a great refresher. She finished the game with 6 points on 50% shooting but was plagued with fouls throughout the game.

The tables turned when Dorroh was inserted into the game. I know I’ve said this multiple times, but when she and Sara-Rose Smith are in the game, the defensive intensity goes up.

Dorroh had incredible hustle plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but one play that did was proven to help her momentum throughout the game. With 2:06 left in the first quarter, she dove for a ball and got a steal out of it.

And in the fourth quarter, she blocked Demi Washington’s layup. Aside from her defense, Dorroh hit a jumper earlier in the game, but the most impressive offensive highlight was from beyond-the-arc. At the 2:53 mark in the second quarter, she launched a three pointer and drained it for her first ever collegiate three.

She finished the game with a career high 5 points in 22 minutes.

2. The double-double queen lives on!

Everybody, I want to introduce you to the NCAA leader in rebounds per game,defensive rebounds per game, total rebounds and double-doubles, Aijha Blackwell.

Despite being shut out from scoring in the first half, Blackwell was still a menace on the boards. She had five defensive rebounds in the first quarter, but none in the second due to sitting the majority of the quarter due to foul trouble.

The third quarter eruption I mentioned earlier allowed Blackwell to achieve her 14th double-double of the season.

Blackwell finished with 12 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. She keeps on showing the NCAA and SEC who’s boss.

3. The third quarter was refreshingly successful.

One of the unfortunate trends of this team, which I have written about before, have been their third quarter woes. Lately though, the Tigers have shown they’re able to grow and overcome their past struggles. Against Vandy, Mizzou’s third quarter offensive outburst and the ability to limit the Commodores momentum was one of the x-factors to getting back in the win column.

Next up, Mizzou takes on Texas A&M at 5 pm on SECN. Also, Red Panda is back for her iconic halftime performances. Definitely not a game to miss.