Missouri assistant coach Brad Loos and his family walked off Norm Stewart Court to thunderous applause and a standing ovation after he wrapped up a halftime address by telling cancer, “When you picked a fight with Rhyan Loos, you messed with the wrong little girl.”
Loos’ 5-year-old daughter, Rhyan, who was diagnosed in October with stage-four neuroblastoma, was the guest of honor during the Tigers’ game against Tennessee on Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
“This is a meaningful day,” MU coach Kim Anderson said before a long pause as he fought back tears. “You guys will have to clip that out. I think this is a meaningful day for a lot of reasons.”
It became a perfect day when Missouri snapped a nine-game slide with a 75-64 win against Tennessee an hour later.
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“You couldn’t have scripted this day any better than it went today,” Brad Loos said. “I’m so thankful for everything that everybody’s done. Thank you doesn’t do it justice. I’m thankful for the way the day went. I’m happy for the win, absolutely thrilled about the money that we raised and I’m really happy for our guys. They’ve been working really hard and deserved a win. They needed this, too.”
MU athletics had dubbed it the “Rally for Rhyan Game,” borrowing from a viral social-media hashtag that sprang up in support of the Loos family.
“We really wanted this win for her more than anything,” MU freshman guard Terrence Phillips said.
Fans were eligible for a free general admission ticket with a donation to pediatric cancer research, a decision that even impacted the visiting Volunteers.
“The most important thing that went on here today was what Missouri did for Rhyan Loos,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “It’s unbelievable that they would do that. … That was the biggest win of all.”
Brad Loos announced at halftime that more than $25,000 had been raised through the benefit game, but Missouri officials said after the game that figure had more than doubled, including $35,726 in cash donations at the gate and more than $15,000 from the sale of 1,300 Rally for Rhyan T-shirts.
Rhyan also attended her first game as a cheerleader earlier in the morning, yet another sign she’s returning to a normal life.
“We’ve been crying a lot over the last four months, but today it was tears of joy for us as a family,” Loos said.
The event also drew 10,536 fans, the largest crowd of the season at Mizzou Arena. The largest crowd before Saturday was 8,087 on Dec. 19 for the North Carolina State game.
“In my wildest imagination, this would have been unbelievable,” Loos said. “The way it turned out was amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
By the numbers
8: Missouri players who have totaled at least 62 points and 23 rebounds in a three-game stretch during the Big 12/SEC era, a group senior forward Ryan Rosburg joined this week.
54.5: Missouri’s shooting percentage against Tennessee, the highest for an SEC game since shooting 62.3 percent in a win against Mississippi State on March 1, 2014.
10,536: Missouri’s crowd on Saturday, the largest since 13,034 showed up at Mizzou Arena on Jan. 29 last season for a game against No. 1 Kentucky.