COLUMBIA — As Missouri women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein walked off the court, she waved to the crowd, thanking them for their support. She was also waving goodbye.
Stein, who stepped down from the program earlier in the week, led the Tigers to a 58-55 overtime win Sunday against Texas Tech in her final home game as head coach. When the game was over, Stein was met with countless hugs from players, coaches and fans. Those people were all appreciative of the 12 years Stein has given the University of Missouri.
“It’s hard to talk about how much they mean to me,” a choked up Stein said about her team, shortening her answer because she was overcome with emotion.
Already an emotion-filled day because it was Senior Day, the game at Mizzou Arena had a little extra meaning to it.
“I think everybody played for the seniors and Coach Stein today,” senior Amanda Hanneman said. “Usually, you just play for the seniors, but this time we played for our coach as well. It meant a lot.”
The win not only allowed Stein to end her Mizzou Arena career with a win, but it also snapped a 10-game losing streak for the Tigers.
It did not come easy. Missouri led throughout much of the game, and by as many as 10 points in the second half. But the Red Raiders rallied and forced overtime.
In overtime, the Tigers led by eight points with more than a minute to play. Then, it got interesting. A 3-pointer by Murphree Jordan with 33 seconds left cut the Tigers lead to 56-55. With the Tigers leading by two points with six seconds remaining, the Red Raiders had a chance win the game with a 3-pointer. However, an attempt was blocked by Tigers senior Jessra Johnson to seal the game for the Tigers.
In a season where not much has gone right for the Tigers, it seemed fitting that Stein and her Tigers would lose another close game. But their luck was different in overtime.
“We came up with the loose balls,” junior RaeShara Brown said. “I think the ball bounced our way a little bit more.”
Johnson led the Tigers with 18 points. Kierra Mallard led Texas Tech with 17 points.
After the game, Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry praised the way Stein has coached the Tigers over the past 12 seasons.
“We’re in a business where a lot people compromise what they believe in everyday because it’s all about winning,” Curry said. “Cindy has never compromised what she believes in. I think she is a great role model for all of us as coaches.
“All of the wins in the world doesn’t get you to heaven. Doing things the right way get you to heaven.”