COLUMBIA — Missouri forward Christine Flores and Texas forward Kristen Nash went up for the tipoff. Flores won it, and the ball went to Tigers guard RaeShara Brown, who drove the lane and scored on a layup.
The basket didn't make the score 2-0, though. Brown's layup gave the Missouri women's basketball team a 74-72 lead at the start of overtime Saturday against No. 22 Texas. A surprising situation considering the Longhorns had led by 12 points with just under three minutes left in regulation.
"I didn't see any quit in our kids," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. "We had some pretty heated timeout situations, and I thought our kids bore it pretty well. They just continued to look me in the eyes and grit their teeth and go out there and compete."
The Tigers led 81-80 with less than a minute to go in the extra period when Flores found a streaking Brown and sent her a pass in the paint. Brown collected the ball and scored to put Missouri ahead 83-80.
From there, free throws from Brown, who finished with a career-high 27 points, and senior guard Jasmyn Otote kept Missouri in front for a 85-80 victory at Mizzou Arena. It marked the first time since 2001 that the Tigers have earned two wins over a ranked opponents in a season. Missouri beat then-No. 12 Georgetown 54-45 on Nov. 26 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Flores, a junior who scored 24 points in the game, and the three Tigers seniors all made baskets for Missouri in overtime. But Pingeton said many of her players made contributions on Saturday.
"You really gotta look at our bench play tonight," Pingeton said. "I thought Bre (BreAanna Brock) had some huge minutes for us. Look at the unselfish play of Bailey (Gee). She got in late in the game and came up with two huge defensive rebounds for us."
Foul trouble hurt Texas late in regulation when 6-foot-4 center Ashley Gayle fouled out.
"I think it was huge to get her in foul trouble. I don't think they have the same kind of depth at that spot," Pingeton said. "Knowing that we were in a bonus situation, we didn't want to settle for outside shots, but we were really looking to attack the rim."
Pingeton's message got through to her team. Besides a 3-pointer from Otote in overtime, every point in Missouri's late comeback came from layup attempts and from the free-throw line.
Flores led the charge after the Tigers fell behind 72-60 with just two-and-a-half minutes left in the second half. Flores scored nine points down the stretch, including a free-throw to pull within 72-70 with 58 seconds to play in regulation. After Yvonne Anderson, the daughter of MU men's basketball coach Mike Anderson, missed a jump shot for Texas and Gee grabbed the rebound, Shakara Jones scored on a layup to tie it with 22 seconds left. A pair of blocks from Flores kept Texas from scoring and put the game into overtime.
Flores and Jones had been playing cautiously, though. Both players had four fouls.
"If you foul, you foul, but you have to try not to. Me and Shak were both doing that," Flores said. "It's a hard thing not to get that (fifth foul), and it’s not your decision, it’s the ref's. You just got to move your feet more than normal."
Brown said she thought the game was never out of reach.
"You never know in the game of basketball. Regardless of the score, you never give up, and we kept chipping away, we kept fighting," Brown said. "We did not fight that hard to give it up. We went out and took it."
Missouri's victory over Texas had extra meaning for Flores, a native of San Antonio.
"Playing Texas teams, it’s always a little more personal with people who are from there," Flores said. "It’s a lot of fun. These are the games you want to win so bad, and when you do, it’s just that much sweeter."