The Missouri women's basketball team shot colder than it was outside Lorene Ramsey Gymnasium on Tuesday night in Peoria, Ill. The Tigers shot 27 percent from the floor against Bradley, while the temperature outside was 34 degrees. But there were still bright spots.
But when senior forward Jessra Johnson scored in the first minute of the second half to collect her 10th point of the game, she became just the 27th player at Missouri to reach the 1,000-point milestone. Johnson finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds, leading Missouri to a 52-46 victory over the Braves.
“That’s huge,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said by phone. “The best players in our history have all been in that 1,000-point scoring (category). That says volumes about the impact she’s had as a player.”
After the game, the Braves were kind enough to present Johnson with the game ball in acknowledgement of her impressive achievement.
“I’m honored to have done it,” Johnson said by phone. “I feel very blessed to do something like that.”
Ahead 44-43 with only a few minutes left to play, Missouri went on an 8-3 run to secure a victory. Johnson hit two free throws with under a minute to play.
“Sometimes you’ve got to go on the road and win the ugly ones,” Stein said. “And we did that today.”
Missouri led the entire first half until Jenny Van Kirk hit two free throws with 1:07 to go to put Bradley ahead 23-22 at halftime. Missouri failed to record a field goal in the last 5:03 of the half and Bradley went into the break on an 8-0 run.
The trip to Bradley was nostalgic for Stein, who grew up in Peoria and played two seasons at Illinois Central College, the site of Tuesday’s contest. During her time there, Stein was a junior college All-American and led the school to two NJCAA National Tournament appearances. Stein is also familiar with Bradley coach Paula Buscher. The two were teammates at Richwoods High School. Stein was also an assistant coach at Bradley for five seasons.
“I’ve got a lot of special family and friends here,” Stein said. “So it was nice to win in front of them.”
Missouri returns home to face Texas-Pan American at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mizzou Arena.