When the ball went through the basket and the whistle was blown signaling a chance at a three-point play, RaeShara Brown pumped her fist emphatically.
The basket put her Tigers up 44-42, their first lead since the opening seconds of the second half. But Brown was just getting started.
After missing the free throw, Brown stole the ball on the next possession and was fouled. This time she made both. On their next offensive possession, Brown drove the baseline and passed it to Amanda Hanneman in the corner for a three-pointer. Moments later, Brown got a rebound off a Tigers miss and put it in for an easy basket.
Suddenly, the Tigers (4-2) were up 51-42. This run keyed the Missouri women’s basketball team’s 66-55 win over Ball State (3-4) Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.
“You can’t keep that kind of (emotion) in. You got to let it out,” Brown said of her fist-pumping score. “The momentum of the game had switched at that point, and I wanted to make sure our team was aware ‘we in this now, so lets go’.”
Coach Cindy Stein is used to Brown starting key runs for the Tigers.
“Rae (Brown) does a great job doing those things,” Stein said. “Rae is somebody that in almost every game when we need a run, she starts it offensively (by) really pushing us to run the floor.”
Not everything went according to plan for the Tigers. Throughout much of the first half, the Tigers struggled to score. In the first half, the Tigers shot just 33 percent from the floor and trailed 27-26 at the break.
“We were rushing things so much in the first half…We were rushing our screens, our passes,” Stein said. “In the second half, we calmed down a lot.”
Brown noticed a big difference in her team’s performance in the second half.
“Our offense wasn’t creating offense (in the first half). We had to find some kind of way to score,” Brown said. “Second half we came out with more intensity on defense, and that created our offense.”
Much of the success in the second half was due to Brown’s defense on Ball State guard Audrey McDonald. The Cardinal senior holds her school record with 257 three-pointers in her career. In the first half, McDonald scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Brown’s defense picked up in the second half, holding McDonald to zero points in the second half.
Stein gave Brown some advice on how to stop McDonald.
“Don’t let her (McDonald) have the ball. That kid is a terrific shooter. Rae’s intensity will cause some things to happen,” Stein said.
Brown and McDonald both logged 37 minutes in the game. Guarding such a good shooter was not easy for Brown.
“It can be hard on the legs sometimes when you’re going that intensity for so long. She ran off a lot of double screens,” Brown said. “(No.) 33 (McDonald) presented a challenge, but we met that challenge today.”
The game was the Tigers first at home since the a heartbreaking 75-74 loss to Memphis on Nov. 18. Winning at home is something the Tigers are stressing this season.
On Tuesday, the Tigers play at 7:05 p.m. at Bradley. The Tigers will then play six consecutive games at Mizzou Arena.