Containing Cowgirls star Riley key for MU

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | 11:30 p.m. CST; updated 6:59 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — Junior guard Alyssa Hollins led Missouri to an upset win on Saturday with an outstanding performance, scoring 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

The same day, Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley scoffed at such numbers, dropping a career-high 45 points on 12-of-23 shooting against in-state rival and No. 6-ranked Oklahoma in the Cowgirls’ own Big 12 upset win.

Riley has been unstoppable all season, averaging 22.5 points per game for the No. 18 Cowgirls. She leads an offense near the top of every category in the Big 12. Oklahoma State averages 83.1 points per game and only gives up 54.7 points – a margin of 28.4 points, and third in the nation. While Riley - and the Pokes’ transition offense as a whole - has given fits to almost every opponent, Missouri coach Cindy Stein doesn’t see the need to approach the game differently than any other Big 12 tilt.

“I think the main thing for us is to play solid, positional defense,” Stein said. “We’re just going to try to play Riley straight up at all times. We have to know where she is, we’re going to have to help out on her. She’s a very talented player, but she’s not their only weapon, so you can’t just concentrate on her.”

Hollins will handle most of the defensive assignment on Riley. While the pair’s recent scoring outbursts might imply that defense will be at a premium, Hollins maintains that the ‘D’ will be the key.

“We want to contest every shot, make her work for everything she gets,” she said. “We just really want to get back and concentrate. If you collapse on the rebounder, they tend to push the ball up and we want to get back and force them into a set. They’re really good in transition.”

Even though Oklahoma State is coming off a big win against OU, the Tigers’ win might have been more important. Missouri finished off its first Big 12 victory of the young season with a 26-8 run over the final 12 minutes to defeat Texas Tech, 67-58. In a season already full of close games and second-half collapses, it was paramount for Missouri to turn the tide on an opponent, especially in a conference home game.

“We’ve been in a lot of tight games this year against different levels of opponents, but against Texas Tech, actually finishing off a game was big for us,” Hollins said. “Hopefully it sets up a pattern for the rest of the Big 12 season.”

Stein is excited to take Missouri on its first conference road trip of the year, to see how the players react, and to see if the Tigers can grab another conference win before this weekend’s Border Showdown matchup with Kansas.

“Every time we got out on the road, it’s an experience with this young of a team,” Stein said. “But this group responds to those types of challenges. I think they’ll be fine. It’s just one of those things you hope they pick up quickly.”

“We know that we just have to rise to the next challenge.”

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