COLUMBIA — With the shot clock running down and four minutes left in the game, RaeShara Brown had the ball and was open about 25 feet from the basket. She didn’t realize how far she was from the rim, but she confidently took the shot, which hit nothing but net.
“I didn’t think we were going to get any closer to the basket,” Brown said. “Sometimes you just got to let it fly.”
Brown raised both arms while getting back on defense as the crowd roared. When she finally brought her arms to her side, she quickly raised them one more time, urging the fans to keep cheering.
The crowd continued to roar when Jasmyn Otote hit a 3-pointer just more than a minute later to cap a 15-0 run and give the Missouri women’s basketball team a 63-47 lead with 2:52 to play. The Tigers went on to defeat Kansas 66-52 on Wednesday at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers (10-10, 2-4) dominated the last seven minutes of the game, making it hard to imagine that they had struggled badly down the stretch of their previous three games.
“I’m proud of the effort from start to finish,” Pingeton said. “We’ve been talking a lot about consistency, understanding that it’s a 40-minute game. I felt like tonight we really over exaggerated our effort to get to loose balls, and I thought it was contagious.”
Despite the strong finish, the Tigers got off to a slow start and trailed most of the first half. They were down 25-18 with 7:43 left in the half when they went on a 12-0 run. A basket by Kansas stopped the run, but Missouri took a 30-27 lead into halftime.
Brown led the Tigers with 22 points. BreAnna Brock provided 12 points off the bench. She was 6-of-6 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds in 21 minutes.
“Not bad, not bad,” Pingeton said with a smile when Brock’s stats were read to her.
Early in the game, Brock stole a pass. Instead of looking for a guard, she led a three-on-two fast break down the floor. She took it to the rim, pinned her defender with a spin move and laid it in.
“I heard Rae in the corner, honestly,” Brock said. “But I realized there was a guard in front of me, and she wasn’t going to block my shot, so I just took it.”
Sophomore forward Carolyn Davis led the Jayhawks (14-6, 1-5) with 17 points. She scored seven of those points in the first four minutes of the second half but was held in check for most of the game.
“The lane got more crowded and more crowded,” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “It’s like 10 people living in a one bedroom apartment. That’s what it looked like in there.”
Wednesday marked Pingeton’s first experience with the Missouri versus Kansas rivalry. She said she realizes how important the rivalry is for the fans and players, but it wasn’t a big deal for her.
“I really respect the rivalry,” Pingeton said. “But I’m so competitive, I don’t care who I’m playing, I want to win. Every game is really important. I don't believe in getting too high for a game or not respecting the opponent at the level you need to. From a coaching standpoint, I think I’m a little more even keel with it.”