Lucky No. 13: Mizzou keeps perfect streak alive

The team’s 13-0 start marks a perfect non-conference schedule.

Missouri Tigers forward Sophie Cunningham (3) dribbles past a Arkansas-Pine Bluff defender Nov. 16, 2015, at Mizzou Arena. Courtesy of MU Athletics

Charlotte had the same 11 steals, outshot its opponent from behind the arc and even had more players score in double digits Dec. 29 at Mizzou Arena. But No. 23 Missouri somehow pulled out the win — again.

Playing more balanced than ever, according to coach Robin Pingeton, the women’s basketball squad had 34 points from non-starters, totaling over double its opponent’s bench points.

However, the Tigers did more than spread out the points. They spread out the floor. Dominating the paint with 38 points and shooting over 50 percent from the field for the fifth time this season, there was no stopping this offense.

Given the six sisters on the team, half of which are regular starters, more often than not a set or a single sister leads the score board. Typically, it has been freshman Sophie Cunningham or a Porter sister that takes on this role. But Tuesday it was all junior forward Jordan Frericks.

For Frericks, who totaled 16 points and 15 rebounds, production comes with experience.

“She's relentless going to the boards,” Pingeton said. “She's doing a lot of things really well for us. You expect that out of an upperclassman. She got a lot of minutes and experience last year under her belt. What she particularly does well is not forcing the issue. She takes what's available."

Cunningham, the team's leading scorer with an average of 16.6 points, saw a game of foul trouble and low scoring. With this piece of the puzzle missing, it was senior guard Juanita Robinson, who filled the void with 12 points.

"I think Juanita did a great job stepping up,” Frericks said in the postgame press conference. “I think she had a great game. She knocked down some really important shots. That's what our team is all about. If Sophie's in foul trouble then we have another player right behind her to step up."

Mizzou went to dominate the majority of the second quarter with a 20-4 run trailing by one in the first period. After shooting over 50 percent, the Tigers went into halftime up by 18.

The dead even scoring of the third quarter and mere three point advantage in the last was enough to claim their lucky 13th win, tying the program's winning streak record that dates back 30 years.

With its 13-0 start marking the end of its nonconference schedule, the real question is whether the squad will be able to continue their success in the Southeastern Conference play. The answer will come in their next match Jan. 4 against Tennessee.

“We understand what's in front of us with Tennessee and SEC play beginning next week,” Pingeton said. “Our first handful of games in the SEC are against pretty much all the ranked teams in the conference. From a mentality standpoint they know what's in front of them and they're excited about the next step."

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