COLUMBIA — When the ball went through the net with 12 seconds left, the Memphis bench jumped in jubilation.
The Missouri women’s basketball’s team wasn’t quite as ecstatic.
Missouri, which led by 17 at halftime, gave up the lead for good when Memphis sophomore Brittany Carter hit a mid-range jumper with 12 seconds remaining. Missouri was then unable to get a shot to the rim on its last possession, losing to Memphis 75-74 on Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena. Missouri dropped to 1-1, while Memphis improved to 1-2.
“It was a tale of two halves, plain and simple. Very disappointed in the loss,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “I felt like our kids panicked. We ran two plays they’ve run before and both of them were run incorrectly. I think it’s nerves.”
In a season that Missouri is using change as its motto, the change wasn’t evident on Wednesday. Actually, it was much of the same. Last season, the Tigers lost 11 games by 10 or less points.
After the game, Stein pointed out that last year has nothing to do with this year’s team. Missouri senior Jessra Johnson respectively disagreed with her coach.
“I know we have a lot of returners, so we do remember. Even though we’re not supposed to, like Coach Stein doesn’t want us to remember last year, but we do,” Johnson said. “It is in the back of our heads.”
Through two games, the second half trouble Missouri is having this season is obvious. In their season opener against Northern Iowa, Missouri was outscored 41-33 in the second half. On Wednesday, they were outscored 51-33.
“We’ve got to be a better second half team. I don’t know, maybe we’re dating football players,” Stein said, poking fun at the struggles the Missouri football team has had late in games this season.
The biggest reason for the comeback was the hot shooting of Carter. The Memphis guard led all scorers with 30 points, including the game-winner. Johnson paced Missouri with 22 points.
“Brittany Carter is going to take that shot for us every time,” Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin, a MU alum, said about the last shot. “She’s a special player. She’s a special talent.”
Free throws also plagued Missouri down the stretch. Missouri was 14-for-26 from the line in the game. The Tigers also had 18 turnovers in the game.
“I’m going to try and get people to come and shoot free throws and do extra stuff before practices, just the little things that can win games,” Johnson said.
For now, Missouri must deal with losing another close game. Missouri will be looking to redeem themselves when they go on the road for the first time this season, playing at 1 p.m. Sunday at Indiana.
Stein said she thinks her team will be able to take positives out of this tough loss.
“They will learn from it. You cannot simulate game nerves and stress. So sometimes you have to go through it,” Stein said.