The Missouri women's basketball team had the ball with the 38 seconds to go in the game, leading host Indiana by one point. The Tigers needed somebody to step up and make a big play.
Enter Marissa Scott.
The senior forward took a pass from Jasmyn Otote near the baseline a few feet to the right of the block. Scott squared up and released a jumper that swirled around the rim three times before finally falling in the basket. When Indiana guard Jamie Braun missed a potential game-tying three-pointer and Toy Richbow sank two clutch free throws for the Tigers, Missouri escaped with a 76-71 victory.
“I turned, and I was like ‘Oh I’m wide open,’” Scott said. “And I go to shoot, and I have to do a pump fake because she tipped it. So then I was like, ‘Oh no, Oh no.’ It was going around the rim, and I started to squat down and get on the floor. It was amazing (when the ball went in).”
As the ball rolled around the rim, time seemed to stand still.
“I don’t really remember what I was thinking,” Tigers forward Shakara Jones said. “I think I was just like, ‘Go in, go in.’ I remember my mouth saying ‘Go in, go in.’ I was just so excited when it went it.”
“I felt good that she felt confident enough to take that,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said.
Amanda Hanneman led the Tigers with 17 points. Jessra Johnson and Jones were a force on the inside with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
After struggling in the second half in its past two games, Missouri outscored the Hoosiers 40-33 after the break.
“Very pleased with our second half,” Stein said. “Just thought we really came together. We made the free throws. Down the stretch we put ourselves in good situations.”
Trailing by as many as nine points in the second half, the Tigers turned up the intensity when it mattered. Down 52-43 and struggling to find any rhythm on offense, Scott stepped up and hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The shot seemed to breathe life back into the lackluster Missouri team.
The lead exchanged hands several times from there until Missouri forward Jessra Johnson completed a three-point play with 2:08 remaining in the game to give the Tigers a 70-68 advantage. After the Hoosiers tied the game at 70, Tiger forward Shakara Jones scored on a right-handed hook shot that gave Missouri the lead. Hoosier Jori Davis connected on one of two free throws and that’s when Scott stepped up with the clutch play.
Down 60-53 with eight minutes to go, Missouri rattled off a 10-0 run to take a three-point lead with 5:47 remaining.
“It also builds confidence when you can do those things (comeback),” Stein said. “Obviously you can’t wait too long to go on a run. Our timing was pretty good in that aspect.”
Missouri came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and built a 14-point lead midway through the first half. The Tigers became complacent and entered halftime trailing 38-36.
“At that moment before the coaches came in,” Scott said. “We all came together as a team and we just said ‘We’re going to get this win. We’re going to get it done.’ So that was pretty amazing.”
After going 14-for-26 from the free-throw line against Memphis, Missouri was 15-of-19 from the charity stripe against the Hoosiers.
“That is huge,” Scott said. “We actually have been practicing free throws nonstop in practice so it’s definitely paid off in this game and it got us to win for sure.”
Missouri improves to 2-1 and Indiana falls to 3-1.
“It was a hard fought win,” Jones said. “It was back and forth. We came out with the victory and we’re very excited especially after the game against Memphis.”
Missouri’s ability to win a close game on the road is a positive sign for the rest of the season.
“I think it’s a great confidence booster for us,” Scott said.
“I’m really proud of our kids and how they responded,” Stein said. “When you have a Marissa Scott and a BreAnna Brock and kids that haven’t always been the ones that we’ve gone to offensively to score, when they can step up and make plays like that, I think it says a lot and give them a lot of credit for doing those things.”
And keeping up with tradition after every victory, the Tigers went out for ice cream to celebrate.
The Tigers return to action at 4 p.m. Friday when they take on Florida A&M as part of the Seminole Classic in Tallahassee, Fla.