The Missouri women’s basketball team celebrated playing the 1,000th game in program history on Saturday, but the result was one the Tigers would like to forget.
MU fell behind by 17 at halftime against No. 21 Kansas State and couldn’t recover, losing 81-52 to the Wildcats in Manhattan. The loss gave the Tigers the second most losses in a season in program history, one fewer than the 1996-97 team. The loss also clinched a last place conference finish and the 12th seed in the Big 12 conference tournament.
The Wildcats (20-8, 12-3 Big 12) built their lead by going on a 25-7 run to end the first half after MU (9-19, 2-13) had briefly taken a one-point lead. MU never got back to within single digits, and only made one mild threat in the second half. The Tigers fell behind by 22, but went on a 17-7 run to cut the deficit to 12.
“When we knocked it down to 12, we had a chance,” Stein said in a radio interview. “We may have spent everything we had to get there, but there’s a reason why they’re playing for the Big 12 (regular season) championship on Wednesday. They’re a great team.”
The Wildcats had a balanced scoring attack with four players scoring in double figures, led by junior point guard Shalee Lehning’s 21 points. She also added 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Wildcats senior guard Kimberly Dietz had 19 points and made five 3-pointers, often shooting from well beyond the arc. Stein said that even though Dietz had a great game, there was no reason for her young team to get discouraged.
“She didn’t play like that as a freshman, we have to remember that,” Stein said. “She didn’t play like that as a sophomore and that’s what we’re playing against her with.”
The Tigers got double-digit scoring efforts from junior guard Alyssa Hollins (15 points), Shakara Jones (14) and Jessra Johnson (11). But Johnson got all of her points in the second half becausetwo fouls in the first forced her to only play 19 minutes of the game. Stein said Johnson’s limited playing time was a big reason for MU’s poor offensive game.
“When Jessra gets in foul trouble, it kind of takes us out of sync because it eliminates a scorer on the floor,” Stein said.
MU had trouble shooting from the field and the foul line. The Tigers made 20 of 61 shots and went only 6-for-14 from the free throw line.
The Tigers will play next when they head to Colorado for their regular season finale on Wednesday.