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Florida tops Missouri in regular season finale

 Rory Whetstone   in Basketball

(Mitchell Scaglione/ Mizzou Athletics)

Missouri (17-12, 6-10 Southeastern Conference) failed to end their regular season on a high note as they fell to Florida (16-13, 5-11 Southeastern Conference) by a score of 61-52 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo., on Sunday afternoon. 

The Tigers were led by Hayley Frank (16 points, 6 rebounds) and Lauren Hansen (12 points), but were unable to be strong offensively, as they struggled to make shots. Missouri was only able to convert on four 3-pointers, with three of those baskets coming in the first quarter. They finished the game shooting 17.4% from beyond the arc. 

One of Missouri’s few positives from Frank's rebounding achievement, as she finished with six boards to reach the milestone of 500 rebounds in her career.

Florida had a stellar performance from guard Leilani Correa, who not only scored 17 points, but also grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds. It doubled her previous season record of eight against Houston last November. Correa reached the double-double mark about halfway through the third quarter. 

She was also helped by Kirsten Deans,who pitched in with 13 points. 

The Gators also struggled offensively by shooting 30.6%, but they took advantage of their opportunities and pulled away with the win.

Troup Solidifies Mark as Mizzou Great

Haley Troup capped off her legacy as a Missouri Tiger in her final regular season game with seven points and eight rebounds. 

Over her five seasons with the Tigers, she set a school record for most games played with 145. Of those games, she started 82 of them. Netting a total of 874 points, she has been a well-known leader of the team, and this applies both on and off the court. 

Coach Robin Pingeton was asked about Troup’s importance to the team and reiterated how great of a leader she is.

“The thing about Troup is that she’s never wavered," Pingeton said. "She’s always been a first in high character, high integrity. It really poured into her teammates. They have great respect and admiration for her.”

Offensive Woes

While both teams struggled on the offensive side of the court, the striking difference was Florida's ability to net second-chance points. Missouri posted just two points in that category, while Florida racked up 18. 

Both teams shot roughly 30% from the field with Florida going 19-of-62 and Missouri shooting 19-of-56. 

Entering the game, Missouri was 12-1 when they held their opponent to lower than 39.9% from field goal range, but Florida overcame that trend. In each of the four quarters, Missouri went on two three-minute scoring droughts. The Tigers were only able to notch six points in the second quarter and it proved faulty as they went into the half trailing 30-23, moving to 3-10 when trailing after the first two quarters. 

Meanwhile, the Tigers moved to 0-8 when scoring less than 59 points, and they also moved to 0-12 when trailing after the third quarter. 

Missouri’s kryptonite was their shots from 3-point land. The 17.4% shooting was their lowest percentage since making only one at Arkansas earlier this month. Coming into the game, the Tigers were third in the conference in 3-point efficiency at 35.9%. Key players Haley Troup and Sara-Rose Smith couldn’t convert on a single three, and this bad luck echoed throughout the team, Missouri did not convert from the perimeter in both the second and third quarters.

However, on another positive note, Frank continued her consistent success on offense. Scoring 16 points, she moved to being just six points away from passing Erika Martin (1992-1996) in 9th place on the all-time career points leaderboard. 

SEC Tournament

The 2023 Southeastern Conference Tournament returns to Greenville, S.C., with play set to open on Wednesday.

Missouri will face off against Arkansas in the 8/9 game on Thursday, and the Tigers must dig deep to flip the script against the Razorbacks. Missouri lost both regular season matchups and were even limited to a season-low 33 points in one of them. 

This will be team's last chance to play its way into the NCAA tournament, as it is currently not projected to make the field of 68.