The Missouri women’s basketball team trailed by nine points with less than three minutes to play. RaeShara Brown scored five points on the Tigers next two possessions to bring them within four.
On the other end, Brittany Spears nailed a 3-pointer to kill all of Missouri’s momentum.
Spears came up big when the Buffaloes needed it most. She scored 18 of her game-high 26 points in the second half of Missouri’s 58-48 loss to Colorado on Saturday in Boulder, Colo. The Tigers fall to 9-10 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12 Conference.
Spears, a senior, has been a thorn in the side of the Tigers her entire career. Before Saturday, her most recent performance against the Tigers, she scored 34 points last year in a one-point win at Mizzou Arena. In that game, she hit a late 3-pointer to cap a Colorado comeback and send the game to overtime.
Spears is Colorado’s leading scorer, and Missouri coach Robin Pingeton knew the Tigers would have to defend her a certain way. But they didn’t defend her the way Pingeton had hoped.
“We weren’t assignment correct,” Pingeton said in a postgame radio interview. “They set double-staggered screens. We got caught going in a direct line instead of chasing the outside hip. If you give her any room, she’s going to get a shot off.”
Spears missed eight of her first 11 shots before she finally got going. Her slow start didn’t cost the Buffaloes early. Missouri didn’t make a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game, and Colorado jumped out to a 12-2 lead.
Trailing 21-11, the Tigers responded with a 16-2 run over the final seven minutes of the first half to take a four-point lead into halftime.
Despite shooting just 21 percent in the second half, the Tigers hung around. Even after Spears’ 3-pointer gave Colorado a seven-point lead, the Tigers still had a chance when Colorado’s Julie Seabrook missed the front end of a one-and-one with a minute left. But Seabrook got her own rebound and laid it in. It was Colorado’s 20th offensive rebound of the game.
Brown led the Tigers with 13 points. Shakara Jones was second with 12. Jasmyn Otote had nine points on three 3-pointers. Christine Flores led the Tigers with 10 rebounds but scored just five points.
The loss was the fourth in a row for the Tigers. It was the third straight game they’ve had a chance to win until late in the second half. They’re inability to finish may be because they are a young, inexperienced team, but on Saturday, Pingeton was frustrated with her players’ effort.
“It’s time for these players to step to the plate,” Pingeton said. “We have a turnover or a missed shot and the head goes down and the shoulders go down and we don’t make that effort to get back on the defensive end. That’s not the way the game is played. Pretty soon you got to grow up a little bit and take some personal responsibility.”