Tigers go cold in loss to Xavier

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | 10:02 p.m. CST; updated 12:03 a.m. CST, Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Missouri guard RaeShara Brown is knocked down while driving to the basket. Despite trailing by 15, Missouri started a comeback that got the Tigers within four points, but they ultimately fell short to Xavier's size advantage.

COLUMBIA — It was just that kind of night for the Missouri women’s basketball team. Amanda Hanneman released a 3-pointer from the right wing. Clank. A deep shot from the corner by RaeShara Brown. Thud. Yet another brick.

They came in averaging six 3-pointers a game, but the Tigers hit only three from behind the arc Tuesday night. Missouri’s cold shooting from the outside led to a 68-60 loss to No. 16-ranked Xavier at Mizzou Arena.

“On the perimeter, it was a lot tougher to score,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “They did a great job out on us. They didn’t give us much windows of opportunity, and then we didn’t hit shots when we did (get opportunities). Those things kind of do a little bit of a domino effect. It puts a little bit more pressure on your defense every time down the floor.”

Missouri finished the game 3-for-16 from deep, but the Tigers didn’t hit a 3-pointer until Hanneman nailed a corner jumper with 6:44 left in the contest. For Missouri, that meant too little, too late as the game was out of reach by the time the Tigers started hitting some shots. Down by 15 with five minutes to play, a Missouri run brought the deficit to four.

But the night ended as it started, with cold shooting. Two misses on 3-pointers by Jasmyn Otote and Jessra Johnson sealed the Tigers fate, dashing any hopes of a comeback victory.

“We battled and battled and battled,” Stein said. “We just couldn’t get anything to fall. A couple of 3s go down at the end and it’s a different ballgame.”

But Xavier deserves respect. The Musketeers defense played a major role in the Tigers' poor shooting night. Whenever a Missouri player came off a pick looking for an outside shot, a Xavier defender would be in her face. Xavier’s post players stepped out on nearly every pick and altered many of Missouri’s 3-point attempts. With 6-foot-6 Ta’Shia Phillips and 6-foot-5 Amber Harris challenging the shots of sub-six footers Hanneman and Otote, Missouri’s backcourt didn’t get many good looks.

“They took a lot of the arc away from us,” Stein said. “Their defense, they were up in our grill a lot of the game.”

Hanneman, making her first start since Dec. 10 against Texas-Pan American, had the biggest problem with Xavier’s defense. Coming into the game averaging 12.4 points per game, the sharpshooter finished the contest with just 8 points on 2-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-6 from 3-point range.

“I had a hand in my face every time I even caught the ball or even tried getting the ball,” Hanneman said. “They played good even with their posts. They knew I was coming. They read it well.”

The constant hand in Hanneman’s face was a sign of respect. Xavier coach Kevin McGuff was well aware of Hanneman’s shooting prowess.

“She’s an outstanding 3-point shooter,” McGuff said. “We had a big emphasis to really chase her off screens and be there on the catch to try to disrupt her rhythm and not let her get any rhythm 3s.”

Missouri has now come close to knocking off two ranked opponents, the other being a 73-66 defeat to No. 9 Florida State in late November. With Xavier and Florida State resembling teams Missouri will face in the Big 12, the Tigers can take a lot away from these games.

“We are going to see more defense like that,” Hanneman said. “We are going to work on that in practice. Getting our shots up quicker, working with hands in our faces.”

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