COLUMBIA — After her team lost to the No. 16-ranked Texas Longhorns 66-56, Missouri women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein stayed positive in the post-game press conference.
She said she thought her team played hard throughout the second half and was just a play or two away from getting back into the game. She also said her team is closing the gap between itself and the top teams in the Big 12.
“We are getting better. We know the caliber of teams we’re playing against, we’re not that far from the top. It looks like that in the record but when you look at the competitive nature of our team and the way we’re able to stay with teams, everything comes down to possessions and we’re not that far off.”
Texas coach Gail Goestenkors echoed Stein’s sentiments and noted that her team was not treating Missouri like a team that is currently in last place in the Big 12.
“We feel like they’re coming on here,” Goestenkors said. “They’re a young team and they keep getting better and better.”
But when the final buzzer sounded, the Longhorns were better and the Tigers hadn’t improved enough. After building a 10-point lead the Tigers’ offense stalled when the Longhorns used a 2-3 zone that had the Tigers firing errant jumpers for much of the second half. Missouri missed 15 of its 20 three-point attempts and shot 28.4 percent from the field.
“I thought we took some quick shots at times,” Stein said. “And sometimes that happens. But we were wide open and that’s one of those things, you expect your kids to hit wide open shots.”
Goestenkors said the zone really started frustrating the Tigers when Missouri junior Jessra Johnson went to the bench with her second foul. She said Tiger senior Alyssa Hollins was the only three-point threat while Johnson was on the bench. That’s an issue that Stein has addressed.
“Our goal right now is we’ve got to make five people on the floor a threat,” Stein said.
Only Hollins (18) and Johnson (16) finished in double-figures for Missouri. Only junior Brittainey Raven scored over 10 points for the Longhorns but she finished with a career-high 31 points on only 14 shot attempts. But Stein said her points didn’t come easy.
“She hit some big shots,” Stein said. “I don’t ever remember Raven standing out there and getting some wide open look. We ran at her and she’s a great shooter.”
Stein said her team’s primary focus is on its next game against Colorado on Saturday. But she added that her players and staff have some larger goals that they are working toward.
“Our goal is to continue to work on our conditioning so that we can play four games in a row in Oklahoma City,” Stein said, “to go to Colorado and play in altitude and we’ve got to work on our depth and get our depth ready.”
The win improves the Longhorns record to 20-7 and 8-5 in the Big 12. The Tigers fall to 12-14 and 3-10.
Missouri will play at Colorado (11-13, 3-9) at 5 p.m. on Saturday.