Women’s basketball beats No. 21 California to claim Cal Classic title

Sophie Cunningham’s 11 points and seven assists propelled Missouri to its first win over a ranked opponent this season.

Reaching over her Alabama defender, freshman Cierra Porter attempts to gain the rebound over senior Nikki Hegstetter.

After Missouri led for nearly the entire second half, California junior Kristine Anigwe turned and scored on a layup.

Suddenly, the Tigers found themselves tied with the Bears at 49 with 3:41 left in the final quarter

In need of a clutch play to pull ahead, the Tigers worked the ball around, and with 3:16 to go, junior Cierra Porter turned and threw a pass to sophomore guard Jordan Chavis, who hit a three to give the Tigers a 52-49 lead.

After Anigwe made a layup to pull the Bears within two with 16 seconds left, Porter hit one of two free throws to ice the game at 55-52 to help the Tigers capture the Cal Classic title on Saturday with a win over No. 21 California.

Junior guard Sophie Cunningham recorded 11 points and seven assists to earn Cal Classic MVP honors, but it was Porter’s defense that was the story of the game for the Tigers. Porter held Anigwe, the Bears’ top scorer, to 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

By keeping Anigwe contained, the Tigers forced California to take bad shots, and forced offensive plays by other Bears players led to 14 California turnovers and a 20-for-54 effort from the field for the Bears.

Porter’s defensive impact was on display when she swatted away an Anigwe jumper to preserve a 52-49 lead with 2:49 to play. The junior forward finished with 12 rebounds, eight points, two blocks and a steal, earning Cal Classic All-Tournament honors along with sophomore guard Amber Smith.

Another key for the Tigers was clutch shooting from Chavis. The sophomore has hit a three in all but one of the Tigers’ first six games and is shooting 38.5 percent from three this season, providing consistent outside shooting that has opened driving lanes for her teammates.

Chavis was the only non-starter to play more than 10 minutes in the game and is the only bench player to play more than 15 minutes per game this season. The short bench forced Cunningham, Porter and redshirt junior Lauren Aldridge to each play extended minutes, limiting rest for Missouri’s starting lineup and causing fatigue. Cunningham, Porter and Aldridge all played more than 35 minutes, with Porter playing 39.

The Tigers are now 5-1 and will return to Mizzou Arena riding a five-game win streak when they face Kansas State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Thursday at home at 8 p.m.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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