Fruendt finishing college career in style at Missouri State

 
 
Updated 2/5/2018 7:53 PM
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The name Liza Fruendt is synonymous with Batavia's girls basketball program.

Fruendt graduated from Batavia in 2014 as the school's all-time leading scorer (1,921 points). During her senior season, she earned Illinois Basketball Coaches Association first team all-state honors after helping lead the Bulldogs to a 23-10 record and their first regional title since 1990.

For the past four seasons, Fruendt has made her presence felt at the collegiate level as a member of Missouri State University's women's basketball team.

Since her arrival in Springfield, Mo., in the summer of 2014, the 5-foot-10 senior guard has etched her name into the school's record books.

Last Friday, Fruendt became the 11th Lady Bear to score 1,500 career points -- reaching the mark by hitting a free throw with 10.7 seconds remaining during Missouri State's 57-52 victory over Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

As the regular season winds down, Fruendt needs 37 points to crack the top 10 on the Lady Bears' all-time scoring list.

While it seems like yesterday that she was pouring in 3-point baskets for Batavia, Fruendt only has 7 regular-season games remaining in her already memorable college career.

"I was doing a weekly radio interview the other day and realized that it's my last one," said Fruendt.

"It's a really weird feeling. During the middle to latter parts of the season, I'm usually still working on things to improve upon for the next year. Now being a senior, it's a little different because I can see the end coming."

A part of head coach Kellie Harper's first recruiting class, Fruendt has helped elevate Missouri State to lofty heights the past four seasons -- including 3 consecutive top-3 Missouri Valley Conference finishes and postseason appearances.

After earning a spot on the league's all-freshman team in 2014-15 (10.4-point average), Fruendt supplied instant offense coming off the bench (11-point average) during her sophomore campaign as Missouri State reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 by winning its conference tournament title.

"That ranks number one on my list," said Fruendt. "Winning that (conference) championship -- there's nothing like that feeling."

As a junior last season, Fruendt continued her superb play.

Averaging 16.7 points and 5 rebounds while starting all 31 games, Fruendt earned all-MVC first team honors as the only league player to rank in the top 12 in each category (points-18.2, rebounds-6.0, assists-2.7).

Last March, she scored a career-high 46 points -- the fifth best total in school history and fourth-highest total in NCAA Division I in 2016-17.

It has been business as usual this season for Fruendt.

Starting all 22 games, Fruendt averages 16 points and 4 rebounds per contest for the Lady Bears (12-10).

Missouri State, second to Drake (11-0) in the MVC standings with an 8-3 mark, returns to action Friday night at home against Bradley.

"Our conference is always a challenge," said Fruendt. "Of course, a couple of those (losses) we wish we had back but that comes with the territory.

"This season, the dynamic feels a lot more like my sophomore year. Obviously the goal is to win our conference tournament in March and continue playing as long as we can."

Regarded in the MVC as a prolific scorer and 3-point shooter (ranks 3rd in career 3-pointers at Missouri State with 655), Fruendt admits some things have changed this season.

"First of all, my role on the team is a lot different," she said. "My name is on the big scouting report of our opponents. The points are expected so there's added pressure."

Fruendt has been up to the challenge.

Last month, she earned MVC Player of the Week honors for the third time in her career after scoring 62 points in two victories.

Fruendt, who followed a season-high, 33-point effort against Valparaiso with a 29-point performance against Loyola, also was named to the NCAA Division I "Starting Five" for the week of Jan. 15-21.

Her off-the-court numbers are equally impressive.

The administrative management major earned MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team plaudits in 2017.

Two weeks ago, Fruendt, who owns a 3.73 GPA, was honored as the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week.

Having enjoying the team's annual Thanksgiving tournament appearances, highlighted by a Bahamas trip, Fruendt will be eternally grateful to her family for their support.

"My family has been unbelievable," said Liza. "This being my last season, my parents haven't missed a conference weekend."

Donning their "Fru Cru" T-shirts, Liza's family can easily be spotted cheering from the stands.

"Their support is so special," said Liza. "They really care as do all of our players' families."

Fruendt, who plans on playing professionally overseas next year, has enjoyed her time at Missouri State.

"It's one of the best decisions I've ever made," she said of attending Missouri State. "I've made lifelong connections that I'm so thankful for."

You can reach Craig Brueske at csb4k@hotmail.com

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