COLUMBIA — The fans in the 21st row seemed surprised that a T-shirt made it all the way up to them. Most of the other shirts thrown to the crowd by the Missouri women’s basketball team after its win Saturday night at Mizzou Arena stayed close to the court, but sophomore forward Amanda Hanneman had some extra energy to release.
Hanneman contributions Saturday helped Missouri win its first Big 12 Conference game this season — a 68-59 victory over Texas Tech that improved the Tigers to 1-1 in the league and 8-7 overall.
Junior guard Alyssa Hollins' 3-pointer with 39 seconds left put the Tigers up 65-59 and was what Missouri coach Cindy Stein called the key basket of the night.
“You miss that, they (the Red Raiders) can still kind of creep in,” Stein said. “Obviously, that’s kind of key for us.”
But Hanneman's work underneath the basket was also crucial in a game that the Tigers won with defense. Missouri forced 25 Texas Tech turnovers and the Tigers scored 31 points off those turnovers.
Throughout the game, Texas Tech players found themselves driving into a wall of white jerseys, both down low in the first half, and then up high during the second as Missouri played more traps and an occasional full-court press.
There was a brief scare at the end of the first half, after Hanneman fell down hard chasing a ball with a Texas Tech player. Hanneman slid across the court and collided with a photographer. She got up quickly, holding her hand with a stern, determined look on her face as she walked to the foul line. Her first free throw was off target. While waiting for the ball for her second shot, she continued to hold her hand and appeared to be in pain. With 47 seconds left in the first half and the Tigers down 34-32, she reset and hit her second shot.
“We never gave up on it,” Hollins said. “We kept working hard, even when stuff wasn’t going our way. We got it done on the defensive end when we weren’t offensively hitting shots, so it’s a big win for us, I think we won it the right way, on the defensive end. We’re just going to go from here.“
As Missouri ground out a comeback, Hanneman’s hand proved to be fine and she played a big role in the final change in momentum.
Missouri had fought back to within 55-54 and Hanneman grabbed a defensive rebound off a missed shot by Texas Tech’s LaVonda Henderson, who grabbed back and caused a jump ball.
The possession went to Texas, but Hanneman stole the ball back on the inbounds pass and drove from the Texas 3-point line to the Missouri basket for a layup that finally put Missouri in the lead with 5:24 to play.
The crowd of 2,052 lept to its feet. The momentum was in Missouri’s favor and it could win.
The Tigers maintained a slim lead until Hollins’ 3-pointer in the final minute. The win was a sizeable one, earned from tough play rather than a last-chance shot.
The Missouri men’s basketball team, fresh off a victory over Texas, was in attendence and congratulated the Tigers women’s player courtside after the game.
“I think we know now we can compete with anybody,” Hollins said. “The energy is going to be there. You can’t ask for more motivation than playing in the Big 12.”