COLUMBIA — Eight wins in a row can give a team a lot of confidence.
Watching the No. 3 team in the country rapidly pull away and the chance for an upset starting to slip away tends to have the adverse effect.
The Missouri women's basketball team, which entered Saturday's game talking about how much confidence it had amassed throughout its winning streak, learned this when Texas A&M pulled ahead by as many as 17 points.
“I think we had a little drop off where our kids questioned whether we could do it or not," said Missouri coach Cindy Stein said after her team's 62-56 loss on Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
“The key for us is what we do with this game," Stein said. "We’ve got to expect every Big 12 game to be like this, and if we face that fact and embrace it we’re fine. If we think, 'Oh my god, there’s no way,' we’re going to be in trouble."
Not to worry though, Stein said.
"This team isn’t that kind of a personality, and that’s one thing I like about this team.”
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, whose team defeated Missouri by double digits twice last season, said he saw improvement over last year's Tigers.
"Missouri is a good basketball team. They’re so much better now because (Shakara) Jones can take over the game. We did a good job on (Alyssa) Hollins the whole night, but I was impressed with (Bekah) Mills. I thought she adds a different dimension to their team."
Hollins made just three of her 14 shots and finished with just eight points.
“They made it tough on her," Stein said. "Texas A&M’s one of the best defensive teams in the country, so you’ve got to expect that a little bit. But I think she’ll get better from this. I’m not really worried about her.”
With their lone senior struggling, the Tigers watched as Texas A&M's two senior All-American candidates took over the game.
Takia Starks scored 14 points for the Aggies while Danielle Gant had 22 points and shot a person 10-for-10 from the field.
Gant was particularly impressive at the end of the game when she scored six consecutive points for the Aggies to stall Missouri comeback attempt.
“At the end this is a veteran team that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes down the stretch," Blair said.
The Tigers didn't make a lot mistakes at the end of the game either, but they also couldn't make up for their confidence crisis.
"Like Coach Stein said, we had a little space where I feel like a lot of people gave up on the game because we were down by so many," said Jessra Johnson, who scored 13 points.
As Stein suggested, conference games are not going to get easier to win for the Tigers.
Blair thinks they can compete in the league.
"If this team is picked 12th in the league that tells you how good this league is. Every team should be picked one through six," he said.