After not being able to practice for what seemed like eternity, the Mizzou women’s basketball team came out to The Zou looking to start 2-0 in conference play. We were unsure of exactly who would be available after being short-handed against South Carolina on the 30th and the subsequent Covid-related issues that postponed Sunday’s Vanderbilt match up.
The “next player up” mentality was still in full effect even though Missouri was once again down a few players. Sara-Rose Smith got her first career start in place of Haley Troup, who wasn’t in attendance, and I’m sure she was excited for that.
Regardless of roster issues, Mizzou found a way to come out victorious to win this season’s first “Battle of the Tigers”, defeating Auburn 72-63 in overtime.
Here are some takeaways from the win.
1. Aijha Blackwell is back and joined a prestigious club.
After being out due to Covid, Blackwell returned to action, but in a different role. To some fans’ shock, Coach Pingeton made the decision to have her come off the bench instead of start.
Just think about it for a second. Blackwell is coming back from Covid. There’s no way she was at 100%. Would you rather have her in the starting lineup and risk her health or have her come off the bench and ease her back in? I’d personally choose the latter.
Blackwell obviously wasn’t her full self, and it was apparent to those of us who regularly watch this team. She showed signs of fatigue, most notably by not being able to grab easy rebounds. But, because she is still Aijha Blackwell, she still impacted the game.
Blackwell finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds on 50% shooting in 38 minutes, which is still a great showing in her first game back. She also joined the prestigious 1,000 point club, the 38th Tiger to do so. Congrats, AB!
Extremely blessed beyond measure. So thankful for my coaches and teammates man!! https://t.co/CUxHfSqu5N— Aijha Blackwell (@AijhaAnniece) January 7, 2022
2. My goodness, Hayley Frank PLAYED stellar defense.
Frank is not really known for her defensive skills, but when she gets going, she has all the ability to flat out dominate. Last night was her game to shine on defense, and she did just that.
Frank recorded a career high FOUR blocks — including some against Coulibaly and Scott-Grayson — and drew a few charges. When you’re able to stop Coulibaly down low, the momentum can and will impact the game in a positive way.
Frank just recorded her 4th block of the night. FOURTH!— Lauren Rosenberg ️ ✡️ (@lrosenberg101) January 7, 2022
Aside from her blocking prowess, she was dominant on offense. Frank finished with 15 points on 4-9 shooting and 6-7 from the charity stripe, to go along with a career-high 8 rebounds. She also added three and-one opportunities, all of which she converted. Talk about a career night for Frankie!
3. LaDazhia Williams is looking more and more like herself.
I said this after the South Carolina game and I’ll say it again. Williams is looking more and more like the dominant form we saw all last season. She’s still recovering from her knee injury, but last night it didn’t look like it set her back.
Williams had the height advantage over Auburn. Auburn’s tallest players, Kiyae’ White and Jala Jordan, had no answer for her.
She used her size advantage to put up a career-high 25 points on 9-12 shooting and 7-8 from the line, while also adding 8 rebounds.
4. Lauren Hansen balled out.
In my preview post, I expressed my wish for Hansen to go off against her old team, and go off she did. She didn’t break any personal records, but she did absolutely dominate.
Hansen continued to show why she deserves her spot in the starting lineup. She hit some clutch threes and jumpers off of dribble drives and used her ability to create her own shot.
Hansen’s showing was nothing new to what she’s displayed practically all season long. She finished with 17 points on 6-9 shooting and 3-4 from three. Her 17 points were a career-high against Auburn, so that had to have felt great.
Missouri showed some rust, but they’ve continued to display their heart and ability to never give up all season.
Next up, Mizzou begins a two-game road trip. First they’ll travel south to face Arkansas on Sunday at 2 pm. You can catch all the action on SECN+.