COLUMBIA — The expression on Alyssa Hollins’ face told the story of the Missouri women’s basketball team’s free-throw shooting woes this season.
At the mention of free throws, the junior guard’s lips pursed together and her eyes opened wide in an expression of horror.
The Tigers are near the bottom of the Big 12 Conference in many statistics, and free-throw shooting is no different. Missouri is last in the conference in free-throw shooting percentage this season at 62.7 percent, and opponents have 91 more attempts and have made 111 more free throws than the Tigers.
The disparity has played a big part in several Tigers losses this season, especially in Missouri’s tough home loss to Nebraska on Feb. 3. The Cornhuskers attempted 20 more free throws and made 17 more than the Tigers in a game where Missouri saw a 10-point lead with 5:38 to go slip away in a six-point loss.
“Free-throw shooting is huge,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “It always has been and always will be. Good free-throw shooting teams make a lot of opportunities for themselves.”
The Tigers’ offense has averaged just 49.5 points in its past seven games and made an average of just less than five free throws in that span, including making just one against Texas and Texas A&M. Stein said both problems could be taken care of by aggressively taking the ball to the rim.
“We have to attack the basket,” Stein said. “We have to push the ball forward and attack the basket, and those are things that we continue to stress and work on and emphasize.”
Hollins said the Tigers can draw more fouls by isolating against their defenders. She said opponents have trouble guarding Missouri one-on-one especially when they penetrate.
“We get a lot of calls that way,” Hollins said. “We just have to worry about being in control of the ball and taking the hits when they’re not getting called and continuing to go there and make the referees make a call so we can get to the line.”