The Missouri women's basketball team has exceeded expectations this season. At the start of Big 12 play, the Tigers were projected to finish in one of the last two spots. At 4-7 in Big 12 play, a win at Kansas on Saturday could propel them into sixth place.
"At this point, we're in the back end of the stretch," Missouri guard RaeShara Brown said. "You either make a run now, or you lay down and take it."
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.
Radio: KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 FM
TV: KMIZ/Channel 10
With five games left on the regular season schedule, coach Robin Pingeton's team still has a chance to finish second in the conference.
"We have no room for error," Pingeton said. "Everything's got to align for us to have a chance for us to succeed."
But conference road wins for the Tigers come few and far between. They have not won a Big 12 road game in two seasons. They have not won at Allen Fieldhouse in four years.
But an overtime, double-digit comeback win against Oklahoma State on Wednesday could give Missouri the momentum it needs to leave Lawrence, Kan., with a win, though.
"It took a lot of drama to get to the point to where they really responded," Pingeton said. "We're just really striving towards that consistency. We're not going to be perfect from here. It is what it is."
Missouri defeated Kansas soundly at Mizzou Arena three weeks ago. The Tigers carried a 30-27 lead into halftime and never looked back, winning 63-47. Missouri has a 2-3 record since the Border Showdown in Columbia, but has new inspiration after the recent win.
"There was a moment there when we came together. We talk time and time again about how much we love this coaching staff," Brown said. "It gives you goose bumps."
"The energy in the locker room and the overwhelming emotions. It's something that can't be put into words. You enjoy it, and you just realize how hard you work and how much it can pay off if you give it that effort consistently."
Missouri will need a consistent effort to stave off the dual-forward threat that Kansas poses. Sophomore Carolyn Davis averages more than 18 points and seven rebounds per game, while Monica Engelman adds 12 points per game to the attack.
In the Tigers' win over the Jayhawks, forwards Shakara Jones and Christine Flores held Engelman to just five points on 1-7 shooting. Davis neared her season average, leading the Jayhawks with 17.
"We had worked too hard to let another team slide from us," Flores said. "We are not going to have any regrets anymore."
Meanwhile, Brown will have her hands full with Jayhawk guard Aishah Sutherland. Both players lead their teams in rebounding.
"In our minds, we want it more than them, and that's how we have to go play," Brown said. "We have to go and will the game for us. It's those games that can turn seasons."