On Dec. 4, Lauren Hansen had a jump shot rim out in a road game against No. 5 Baylor that would have sent the contest to overtime.

Thursday night at Mizzou Arena, she had the home rims on her side.

She dropped in a layup with .01 seconds left on the clock in overtime that completed a 6-0 run to close out the game, giving Missouri a season-defining 70-69 win over No. 1 South Carolina. The win was the first over a top-ranked team in Missouri women’s basketball history.

“I didn’t really think anything,” Hansen said. “It meant a lot that my team had the confidence in me to have the ball at the end of the game.”

Making the victory all the more impressive was who was not on the floor for MU in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. The Tigers (12-2, 1-0) were missing leading scorer and SEC leading rebounder Aijha Blackwell along with bench contributor Izzy Higginbottom. Coach Robin Pingeton made sure to give them their credit as well.

“We just found out 24 hours ago we were down to eight players (because of COVID-19 protocols),” she said. “At that point, those are the cards you are dealt.”

The first quarter was not one for fans of offensive basketball. The short-handed Tigers did their best to slow the game down offensively and limit paint touches on the defensive end, resulting in a low-scoring quarter.

Where they could not contain South Carolina was on the glass. Without Blackwell, the Gamecocks attacked the boards relentlessly, doubling up Missouri’s rebounding total in the first quarter.

Fueled by the duo of Hayley Frank and LaDazhia Williams, they outscored South Carolina by seven points in the second quarter. Frank had 14 first-half points including a deep 3-pointer that extended the lead to nine and brought a raucous Mizzou Arena crowd to its feet.

On the other end, South Carolina (12-1, 0-1) could not take advantage of its biggest strength, its size. Aliyah Boston was held to one point, as Missouri’s defense forced the Gamecocks’ bigs to shoot contested midrange jumpers, a huge factor that contributed to South Carolina shooting 33% from the field in the first half.

Coming out of the halftime break, the Gamecocks got aggressive. Boston scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in the third. Kamilla Cardoso also added four points in the third. The Syracuse transfer had her best game in a South Carolina uniform, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 20 minutes.

MU did not go away, though, as timely shots from Frank and Hansen ensured the game was tied going into the fourth. Frank and Hansen tied for the game high in scoring with 21 points each.

“These kinds of games are why I came to Mizzou,” Frank said. “It’s so special to have been through the fire and get to see what it feels like winning these types of games.”

The fourth quarter quickly turned into the Mama Dembele show. She scored 10 of the Tigers’ first 13 points, showing off her shooting ability with two shots from long range and her ability to get to the basket. The sophomore point guard was excellent defensively as well. She held South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson to just seven points.

Dembele’s performance was not enough to secure a victory in regulation, though. The Gamecocks mounted a comeback in the final five minutes of regulation, but Zia Cooke couldn’t get her shot to go at the buzzer.

The first two minutes of overtime looked like the end of regulation.

A quick 5-0 run from South Carolina had Missouri looking tired and defeated before its defense stepped up. MU held the Gamecocks scoreless for the last 3:04, setting the stage for an unforgettable comeback.

“I think it was just our heart,” Hansen said. “We came into overtime a little tired but never let each other die.”

Following the new year, the Tigers will take to the road for the first time in SEC play this season to take on Vanderbilt.

Pingeton knows that while this is an amazing result, it does not automatically get her team where it wants to be.

“This was a big one, but it’s about the body of work,” she said. “Our mission this year was (not) about beating South Carolina. It’s about being in the NCAA Tournament.”

  • Summer 2021 General Reporter. Reach me at natemarcus210@gmail.com or (201) 270-7962

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