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Frank and Gilbert’s dominance lead Mizzou WBB to 62-56 over Auburn

It was The Hayley Frank and Katlyn Gilbert Show on New Year’s Day for the (good) Tigers

The Missouri Tigers looked to continue their perfect record in SEC-play against the Auburn Tigers on Sunday evening, and they emerged victorious in a hard-fought 62-56 win.

In Lauren’s preview, they talked about how crucial the loss of Honesty Scott-Grayson (15.8 PPG) has been for Auburn. Without Scott-Grayson, the other Tigers desperately needed to find a way to get some production from places other than behind the three-point line. In the first quarter, they did a pretty fantastic job of doing so, picking up 10 points in the paint. As an aside, we wish Scott-Grayson a speedy recovery as she’s currently sidelined with an injury suffered in a car accident.

Missouri raced to an early 8-4 lead via the help of threes from Haley Troup and Hayley Frank, but quickly found themselves trailing as Auburn did a good job of claiming points in transition and off turnovers.

As you recall, one of the defining aspects of this Missouri team is their ability to shoot threes, a category which has them ranked third in the SEC, but early on in the game they struggled to find their footing from beyond the arc. They shot 1-8 in the first quarter despite getting many open looks. The shooting woes were the main catalyst for Auburn holding a 13-10 lead after the first frame.

After being unable to shake off their three-point rust early in the second quarter, the good (our) Tigers turned its scoring to inside the paint. However, Auburn had other ideas as they continued to trade buckets with Missouri to maintain their lead early in the quarter.

As we seemingly address every game, a key point for Missouri is the absolute need to avoid turnovers, and luckily for them in this game, point guard Mama Dembele was back in the lineup after a safe return from Spain. Dembele’s presence was noted as the Tigers only had six turnovers at about the halfway mark of the second quarter, much better than their previous outing.

With about five minutes left in the quarter, Haley Troup drained a three to end a Missouri three-point scoring drought, and that shot seemingly kicked off an offensive outburst for the good Tigers. Defensively, Missouri put Auburn in a pretty hefty field goal drought midway through the quarter, which aided them immensely in being able to take the lead.

Hayley Frank showed up as Ms. Consistent yet again for the good Tigers, as she led the team with 13 points in the first half and accounted for the bulk of the scoring late in the second quarter. Thanks to Frank’s her, scoring Missouri held a slight 29-28 lead going into the second half.

Alas, the good Tigers found their production from transfer Katlyn Gilbert in the start of the second half, as she scored seven straight points to give the Tigers a 38-33 lead with five minutes left in the third. Gilbert (“Gilly”, as we’ve decided to call her) has settled in very nicely into the team, and has recently found her footing after essentially not touching a basketball for the last two years due to both injuries and the birth of her son. It is also important to note that after this point, the good Tigers never again relinquished the lead.

Gilbert continued to excel throughout the third quarter as she tallied 11 points, and was a primary factor in Missouri securing a relatively comfortable 48-41 lead at the end of three quarters. Gilbert’s contributions led to Missouri posting a dominant 26-10 advantage in the paint entering the fourth quarter.

Turnovers ended up being killer for the Tigers early in the fourth quarter, as they saw a 51-43 lead quickly slim down to a 51-47 lead, which forced Head Coach Robin Pingeton to call a timeout.

Auburn’s Aicha Coulibaly turned out to be a lot for Missouri to handle in the second half after posting lackluster numbers in the first. Her 18 second-half points was a key reason why Auburn was able to stay in the game.

Hayley Frank drained her third three of the quarter with 1:39 left in the game, which was the dagger in Auburn’s hearts as she moved to 23 points on the night and gave the better Tigers a 59-52 lead. Mama Dembele engineered a beautiful kick-out play to Ashton Judd who also drained a three the next possession, extending the lead to 10 with 45 seconds left.

At the end, the good Tigers were able to hold on and grab a 62-56 win over the other Tigers. Frank and Gilbert were the only double-digit scorers for Missouri, scoring 23 and 14, respectively. Freshman phenom Ashton Judd tallied 9 points. The Tigers were once again held below their season average in three point shooting, only making 7 of 21 (33.3%), though Auburn was held to just 2 of 12 (16.7%). There was progress on the turnovers front, however, as the Tigers had 16 (to Auburn’s 15).

One more thing to note: A glaring absence from the team’s production in this game was Lauren Hansen. In her last seven games, she’s averaged 19 points and shooting at a 51% clip. In this tilt, Hansen was held scoreless, 0-6 from the field, including 0-5 from three. Had it not been for the production of Frank, Gilbert, and Judd, this may have been a very different result.

The win moves Missouri (13-2) to 2-0 in SEC-play ahead of their game vs Alabama (12-3, 1-1 SEC), which will be proceeded by a tough stretch for the Tigers in which they play three-straight ranked teams in no. 24 Arkansas (14-3, 1-1), no. 9 LSU (14-0, 2-0), and no. 1, South Carolina (13-0, 1-0).

UP NEXT: The Missouri Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday, January 5th at 6 PM CST in Tuscaloosa.