IOWA CITY — Time heals most wounds. Most pain. Eventually, it did for Cierra Porter.
“I thought I was done,” Porter said. “But after six months off, my body felt pretty good.”
A senior forward for the University of Missouri women’s basketball team, knee pain forced Porter to step away. “Medical retirement” was the term; the decision was made in June.
Porter tore an ACL when she was younger, and had “other knee issues” throughout her career.
As time passed, the pain decreased. Porter considered using this season as a redshirt season, but Robin Pingeton — the Tigers’ coach and Porter’s aunt — presented another option.
“It was her idea” to come back at midseason and finish her career this season," Porter said. “I came in with the other seniors, and we decided that I would finish with them.”
Porter returned in time for a game Dec. 30 against Arkansas State, and came off the bench for the first seven games. She has started for the last 14, and is averaging 7.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Those are the lowest numbers of her career, (she topped out at 13.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore) but she has a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time.
Missouri (24-10) faces No. 8 Iowa (27-6) in an NCAA second-round game Sunday. Tipoff is 1 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
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Porter is the daughter of Lisa (Becker) Porter, who played six-player basketball for Larry Niemeyer at Cedar Rapids Jefferson, then — under C. Vivian Stringer — kick-started the Iowa program.
Becker scored 3,192 points in high school, 1,335 at Iowa (1983-87), where she ranks 19th all-time.
“Mom was the best in the family,” Porter said. “The numbers prove it.
“I’ve never seen video of her playing six-on-six, but I’ve seen pictures. That looks so strange to me.”
Porter, listed at 6-foot-4, will match up in the paint against Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, who was recently chosen by ESPN as its national player of the year.
“She’s really skilled,” Porter said. “She does her work early. She knows how to use her body. She’ll be tough to guard.”
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