When Ouida Savant ran into the Hollins family at the Dallas airport, they decided to fly to Kansas City instead of St. Louis in an effort to avoid the snowstorm.
But from there, a typical two-hour drive turned into a long night of traveling to Columbia.
Leon, Wanda and Cynthia Hollins convinced Savant to ride with them in a rented Ford Taurus to make it to the first game of the State Farm Tiger Classic, which was moved to Saturday after weather postponed the tournament. Still, neither the weather nor the roads stopped the two families from driving to Columbia on Friday night.
“We drove 102 miles in eight hours,” Savant said. “It was brutal. But I haven’t seen Carlynn since August, and there wasn’t anything going to keep me.”
Despite the snow, postponed games, and no practice the day before the first game of the tournament, the Tigers beat Creighton, 70-66, Saturday night. Missouri will play for the championship against Alabama A&M today at 3 p.m. and Eastern Illinois will play Creighton at 5 p.m. to end the Classic.
Savant plans to stay until Thursday, mainly helping finalize plans for her daughter’s July wedding. She usually travels to about half of Missouri’s games throughout the season, and she’s paying special attention this year because it’s her daughter’s last season.
“I’ve been watching her play since she was 10,” she said. “I don’t know how else I’ll spend my time or money. This is the last year. I can never get this back.”
For Alyssa Hollins’ family, attending the Tiger Classic is becoming an annual tradition. Her dad said this is as far north as they’ll travel to watch the Tigers this season, but they’ll be attending games at Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas A&M. Alyssa Hollins said she was glad her family made the trip to see her, even though she didn’t have as good of a night as in previous games.
“I was having a rough night but I don’t know if it had anything to do with my family being down,” Hollins said. “I just hope I can get it together for tomorrow. Get back on track for the team. I know early in the first half, a lot of us were taking quick shots, and not really in the rhythm of the game. I was just trying to force it a little bit. I need to let it come to me.”
Eetisha Riddle scored a career-high 20 points while the Tigers scored a season-high 49 points in the paint. Missouri coach Cindy Stein said that although her team’s chemistry was off on both offense and defense, she didn’t want to use the weather and missed practice as an excuse.
“The way we looked tonight is the way we look at practice the next day after a day off … but at the same time we’ve got to be ready to play,” Stein said. “And circumstances like this may happen and we’ve got to fight it. So it’s great that we won the fight, because it was definitely a battle out there for everything.”
While other families made the trip to Mizzou Arena for the tournament and other games, Carlynn Savant feels fortunate that her mother and family are able to make it as often as they do all the way from Euless, Texas. Her mother said she either drives the 10 hours or flies from Dallas. Her father, when he comes, drives because he won’t fly.
“It’s great. I really love my family,” Carlynn Savant said. “To see them as often as I can, it’s a blessing for them to come us as much as they do. Sometimes it’s rough on me, but they love me. And it’s fun having them here. They’re up here all the time. It’s like I’m not even away from home.”