COLUMBIA — The final minutes of Saturday night's Missouri women's basketball game was played at a frantic pace. There were full-court presses, turnovers, defensive stands and defensive breakdowns before Nebraska's last-second halfcourt heave missed its mark and the Tigers escaped with a 67-66 victory.
But there might not have been a busier place at Mizzou Arena in the closing minutes than the scorers table.In the final 1:41, Missouri coach Cindy Stein made 11 substitutions. There was rarely a change of possession where the Tigers didn't field a different lineup than they did on the one before.
Juniors Marissa Scott and and Toy Richbow spent the most time jogging from the bench to the scorers table. They were subbed in on defensive possessions while junior Jessra Johnson and redshirt freshman Bekah Mills were subbed in when the Tigers had the ball.
Stein said she made so many substitutions for a number of reasons but primarily because of Scott's versatility, which enabled the Tigers to put more defensive pressure on the Cornhuskers in the final possessions.
"Marissa can guard anybody on the floor whether it's a post or a guard," Stein said. "They're (Scott and Richbow) very effective in the halfcourt going off on-ball screens, so obviously having her (Scott) play that position so we can switch on them was going to be critical."
Stein said junior forward Jessra Johnson's four fouls also played a role in her late-game decision making. She said Johnson's ability to inbound the ball against a press, which Nebraska used for most of the game, made it crucial that she not foul out. Limiting her defensive possessions prevented that from happening.
Stein admitted changing her lineup so frequently risked ruining her team's rhythm, and the Tigers hardly finished the game flawlessly. They committed five turnovers in the final 2:23, giving Nebraska a chance to win. But Stein said her reserves were not responsible for that.
"I thought our subs provided good energy," Stein said.
Even if the substitutions had caused some confusion on Missouri's side, it also served to manufacture some miscues for the Cornhuskers when they were setting up their press.
"I actually thought their substitutions bothered us a little bit," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "We didn't get matched-up obviously a few times, and they threw it over the top of us some."
The victory improved the Tigers' record to 10-6 and 1-2 in Big 12 play. Nebraska fell to 9-7 and 0-3.