COLUMBIA — RaeShara Brown sprinted from half court to the free-throw line and patted Jasmyn Otote on the back. Otote, a Texas native, had just sealed the game with a free throw in what the senior called the biggest win in her four years at Missouri.
“I didn’t go to a Texas school on purpose,” Otote said. “I just hate playing against Texas teams. It was great.”
The Missouri women’s basketball team came back from a 12-point deficit late in regulation to beat the No. 22 Texas Longhorns in overtime on Saturday in a Big 12 opener at Mizzou Arena. Brown led the Tigers with 27 points and Christine Flores had 24, but the Tigers couldn’t have won without Otote’s 14.
Otote has struggled with her shot all season. She came into the game shooting just 13 percent from beyond the arc. But all of her teammates and coach Robin Pingeton have been saying all year that Otote has shot well in practice, and it was only a matter of time before her shots started falling in a game.
Otote missed her first two 3-pointers on Saturday. It looked like she was on her way to another tough shooting game, but Pingeton never lost confidence.
“I challenged her in a timeout,” Pingeton said. “I said, ‘You need to step up and stick your shots. You can do this.’”
The senior did step up. With the Tigers trailing 19-14 with just more than five minutes to play in the first half, Otote hit the shot that finally got her going.
The shot clock was winding down when Otote found herself with the ball and only one second on the clock. She released the ball almost as soon as it touched her hands, and it hit nothing but net.
“I didn’t have time to think about it,” Otote said. “I guess that’s what I’d been doing previously, thinking about it too much. After that first shot I just relaxed.”
She went on to hit three more 3-pointers in the game, each coming at a crucial moment in the game. Her final three gave the Tigers a lead in overtime that they would never relinquish.
Otote has a knack for coming up big in crucial moments. The senior had 12 points in a Nov. 26 upset of Georgetown, including two big 3-pointers down the stretch. When she stepped to the line Saturday in an 83-80 game with a chance to seal the win, she had all the confidence in the world.
“I looked over to the bench and everybody was on their feet nodding their head like, ‘this is where you want to be,’” Otote said. “That’s exactly where I wanted to be. I’m a senior. It was time to step up.”
With only Longhorn players lining the lane, Otote effortlessly swished the game-winning free throw. When Texas missed a desperation 3-pointer at the end of the game, the ball fittingly landed in Otote’s hands. She threw it in the air as high as she could and held both her hands above her head, as if a giant weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
“We hadn’t beat Texas in 10 years,” Otote said. “It was the second time in history. It felt so good to get that win. We laid it all on the line.”