COLUMBIA — Christine Flores' 3-pointer with just under three minutes left in regulation had the crowd on its feet.
Missouri fans were already heated by two technical fouls called against their team in the second half. But the 3-pointer brought the enthusiasm to another level. The shot also sparked a comeback for the Missouri women's basketball team. Flores took over.
Missouri Tigers (12-13, 4-7 Big 12)
at Kansas Jayhawks (16-9, 3-8 Big 12)
WHEN: 7 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
"I set all my fears aside," Flores said. "I didn’t have anything holding me back at all."
The Missouri women's basketball team trailed Oklahoma State 54-43 with four minutes left in regulation Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena. Then, Flores scored nine of her game-high 23 points in the final four minutes of regulation in what turned out to be a 71-65 overtime win over the Cowgirls.
Flores and Tigers guard RaeShara Brown combined to score the final 13 points for the Tigers in regulation, bringing the crowd of more than 1,400 to a fever pitch. The atmosphere surpassed that of the Missouri-Kansas rivalry game at Mizzou Arena three weeks ago. Only Missouri's overtime win against Texas to open Big 12 Conference play could match the cheers produced by the crowd on Wednesday night.
"Those last few timeouts were pretty emotional in regulation," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. "They just kept saying, 'Coach, we got your back. We're going to do this for each other. We're going to stay together.'"
Bumps and bruises suffered in regulation looked like they were catching up with Flores as the game went into overtime. Oklahoma State sophomore Toni Young and Flores faced off for the overtime tipoff, but Flores didn't even jump for the ball when the ref tossed it with a backward spiral high into the air.
Oklahoma State coach Kent Burdke had matched his biggest player against Flores. At 6 feet, 6 inches, Cowgirls center Vicky McIntyre dwarfed every player on both teams. Flores, who is 6-3, and McIntyre battled all game.
Early in the second half, Flores dove but couldn't retrieve a ball that flew out of bounds after McIntyre deflected a blocked shot off Flores' arm. On the ensuing offensive possession for Oklahoma State, Flores and McIntyre collided again as they went up for a rebound. Brown joined the fray in the paint, but she elbowed Flores in the face as Flores was coming down.
Flores lay on the ground face down for several moments before trainers rushed to her aid. She covered her face in a towel as she limped off the court.
"I think I woke up snoring. I don’t know. I have no clue what happened," Flores said after the game.
The Missouri forward had already rolled her right ankle in the first half after landing on Cowgirls forward Heather Howard's foot while coming down from a rebound.
The battle between Flores and McIntyre culminated with a foul called on Flores as she attempted to block her adversary with a little over a minute left in overtime. Flores had fouled out, but everyone on the Missouri side of the game stood and roared cheers of approval of Flores' efforts. The Tigers' fans. The players. The coaching staff.
Missouri guard Jasmyn Otote even sprinted the length of the court to high-five Flores before sprinting back to line up for an Oklahoma State free throw.