MU women's basketball gets first Big 12 win of season

Saturday, January 17, 2009 | 8:25 p.m. CST; updated 11:25 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 17, 2009

COLUMBIA — RaeShara Brown lay face down on the floor, hugging the basketball with her left arm and pounding her right fist on the hardwood.

To the surprise of absolutely no one on the Missouri women's basketball team, the sophomore guard had won the game's last scramble for a loose ball, picking up a Nebraska turnover and calling timeout with 8.3 seconds left on the clock. The play all but secured the Tigers' first Big 12 Conference win of the season.

"I don’t know how she does it," MU senior guard Alyssa Hollins said. "She just has a knack for the ball. We need her, her energy is amazing. I feel like her intensity and her defensive pressure has rubbed off on me and everybody around her. When you see somebody working that hard, it makes you want to do something, too. You feel like you can do anything.

"That was a big play. We know she can do that kind of stuff, and we kind of look to her for big plays like that.”

As her teammates slapped Brown on the back and eventually walked with her back to the bench, teammate Jessra Johnson said a single thought was running through her mind.

“Man, I love that girl," Johnson said.

After Missouri inbounded the ball and Hollins was fouled, her missed free throw gave Nebraska (9-7, 0-3 in the Big 12) one last desperate shot. The halfcourt heave sailed over the backboard, and Missouri (10-6, 1-2) held on for a 67-66 victory Saturday night at Mizzou Arena.

While she said her team's execution was not flawless throughout the game, Missouri coach Cindy Stein said the key was that it found a way to win after dropping consecutive conference games.

“I think it was important for us to win this," Stein said. "We talked about it as a team. I said that the thing that I don’t want us to do is to be afraid of losing. We need to go out and win games, but we can’t have fear in us in doing so. We’ve got to be on the attack and not the retreat, but I felt like our kids did that.”

Johnson led Missouri with 18 points and nine rebounds. Hollins added 15 points and five rebounds, and Shakara Jones finished with 12 points.

After admitting the team played "flat" in Wednesday's double-digit loss to rival Kansas, Hollins said the Tigers understood what they needed to do against the Cornhuskers, who were without two-time All-Big 12 performer Kelsey Griffin, who had season-ending ankle surgery in December.

“It was one of those things I don’t think you need to talk about, everybody knows," Hollins said. "Everybody knew how important this game was. You don’t want the losses to snowball, so we had a new focus, and I feel like we came out playing really hard and everybody had the desire tonight."

Missouri plays at Iowa State (13-4, 1-2) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

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