Morgan Stock steps up in emotional win for Missouri women's basketball

No. 23 Missouri women’s team beats No. 22 Florida 79-64 despite 30 turnovers and 25 fouls.
Missouri Tiger freshman Cierra Porter blocks out her Florida Gator opponent as Florida's Tyshara Fleming shoots a free throw.

It was one of those games that you never wanted to end.

No. 23 Missouri women’s basketball’s game against No. 22 Florida had just about everything — controversial calls, passionate players and a whole lot of fouls. The only thing missing was a season-ending injury and with the amount of players hitting the floor, it's surprising there wasn’t.

The game can be described in one word: physical. Or at least that’s what you’d assume given the 57 fouls called. That’s right, 57. Ultimately, though, Missouri powered through and emerged victorious by a score of 79-64.

Not all of those calls were physically aggressive fouls, though there were plenty of those. Instead, a significant number of them were what coach Robin Pingeton likes to call “ticky tacky” fouls, where you question if there was any contact at all.

With a fast paced offense like Florida’s, the teams ran up and down the floor constantly, but their motions were stopped time and time again by the sound of the whistle. At one point in the third quarter, it seemed like a possession didn’t go by without a whistle being sounded.

Given the 25 fouls and 30 turnovers called just on the black and gold players, you could say this got the crowd a little animated toward the officials. Although Pingeton typically tunes out the noise out, tonight she couldn’t help noticing the eruption a few times.

At one point, after a streak of back-to-back-to-back Missouri fouls called, the crowd gave a standing ovation when the refs called a foul on the Gators.

With a soundtrack of booing animating the game, the Tigers fed off the energy of the crowd, remaining aggressive, taking charges and scampering after every 50-50 ball. They played without “foul fear,” as Florida coach Amanda Butler called it.

However, this didn’t always bring positive results when they weren’t the right fouls to give, especially in the case of freshman Sophie Cunningham, who fouled out in the fourth quarter after a double technical in a pile up. Without a Cunningham, someone needed to step up to replace the team’s leading scorer.

That person was senior Morgan Stock. Shooting 7-9 from the field, the upperclassman set a new season high with 20 points, giving the team the offensive boost it needed.

Her most important bucket came late in the fourth quarter when the Gators continued trying to creep back in. Her final trey set the bench and the arena on fire, bringing everyone to their feet immediately. She sealed the deal.

"It was a mental thing for me for a while and I've figured out a way to just clear my mind and just have fun with it,” Stock said. “I would get down on myself after one miss, but now I've finally learned how to move on and we talk about next play all the time, so next play. My teammates and coaches have been huge supporters and they have been able to push me forward."

Stock said she felt the electricity running through her body. From the hustle and emotion each player displayed, it seemed like they felt the same energy.

It was that hype that brought them to a 79-64 ending and their second win against a ranked team. The Tigers overcame their evenly-matched opponents, just missing their prior goals in the process.

“We knew this was a big game for us for a lot of reasons,” Pingeton said. “I thought our seniors played outstanding. They really stepped to the plate for us, but a great overall team win. Overall, our goal was to hold them at 60 points, they scored 64. We wanted to out rebound them by eight, I think it was six. Overall, I think we did a great job on both ends of the court."

Missouri fans can see the Tigers play next on Jan. 28 against LSU.

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