COLUMBIA — Bad teams find ways to lose.
The past couple of weeks, the Missouri women’s basketball team, on a four-game losing streak entering Wednesday night's game, fit that description. But against No. 13 Oklahoma at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers were playing their best game in weeks. The Tigers were battling back and forth with the Sooners much of the game.
With less than 50 seconds left, the Tigers led 61-60 and had possession of the ball, and Missouri coach Cindy Stein elected not to call a time out. The Tigers nearly failed to get a shot off when Christine Flores shot a mid-range jumper as the clock shot was about to expire. As the shot missed, the Sooners pushed the ball up the floor, and the Sooners' Amanda Thompson scored off a rebound with 9.6 seconds left.
But that wasn’t it.
Instead of pushing the ball up the floor on their final possession for a shot at a two-point basket, Jessra Johnson forced a deep, fade away 3-pointer with about three seconds left. The shot missed, and the Tigers lost again. It left many wondering if the Tigers could have gotten a better look at the basket.
“I didn’t think it was a bad shot,” Stein said after the 62-61 defeat.
Before the final shot, Johnson had missed her previous six 3-point attempts in the game and is shooting 19 percent on the season from beyond the arc. For the game, the miss left her 0-for-7 on 3-pointers and 8-for-10 from 2-point range.
“From my perspective, there was a lot of crowd (and) not a lot of time to dribble and get to the rim, so I shot,” Johnson said.
Despite the loss, the Tigers defense played well. The Tigers forced the Sooners into 23 turnovers.
“Our defense was sharp today. I thought we were very active, thought we caused a lot of things to happen,” Stein said. “I feel good about our defense.”
The Tigers used the same starting lineup they had earlier in the season, before Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson were briefly suspended. It was Johnson’s first start since being reinstated. Christine Flores, who had flourished once put into the starting lineup, was back on the bench to start the game.
“We were trying to relieve some pressure off of Christine and kind of get her back,” Stein said. “She’s a tremendous player, but also with that being said, Jessra’s been playing pretty well.”
Johnson led the Tigers with 18 points. Nyeshia Stevenson led the way for the Sooners with 23 points.
The Tigers took another hit at practice on Tuesday. Bailey Gee tore her anterior cruciate ligament, joining Bekah Mills as the second Tiger to do so this season.
“It was a really tough day (Tuesday). You never want to see a kid go down. It’s a huge loss,” Stein said.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Missouri. The Tigers (10-7, 0-4) face No. 10 Baylor at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena. A loss on Saturday would give the Tigers their worst start in Big 12 play during the Stein era.
“I think we have a good team. I don’t think we’ve proven it,” Stein said. “But you know what, I still believe in them, and we’re going to keep fighting.”