COLUMBIA — Colorado knew what was coming.
With 14.1 seconds left to play, the Missouri women’s basketball team had the ball and was trailing by two. The Tigers had been in situations like that before. There was no doubt that the ball was going to be in RaeShara Brown’s hands.
Working from the right side, Brown drove and beat her defender to the basket. For a moment, it looked like she had an easy layup, but Colorado’s Rachel Hargis came from the back side and blocked the shot before it even left Brown’s hand.
Brown crouched below the basket with a frustrated look on her face. In a postgame press conference, she hinted that she thought she was fouled.
“I thought I had a clear path to the basket,” Brown said. “You can talk about whatever call or whatever, but I thought I had a clear path. She came up and contested the best way she knew how. I’ll leave it at that.”
After the blocked shot, two free throws by Colorado’s Brittany Spears with five seconds left gave the Buffaloes a 63-59 win Saturday at Mizzou Arena in a game in which neither team led by more than five points.
Spears scored 26 points to lead Colorado, followed by 18 from Chucky Jeffery. The two carried the Buffaloes offense the entire game, but when they desperately needed a basket, it was Britney Blythe who came through.
Trailing by one point with 23 seconds to play, Colorado got the ball to Spears for a 3-point attempt. She missed, but Julie Seabrook came up with an offensive rebound near the free-throw line, turned around and passed it to an open Blythe.
“She had her feet ready, she eyed it all the way, there was no second-guessing,” Colorado coach Linda Lappe said.
Blythe buried the 3-pointer and jumped in the air in excitement before realizing she had to get back on defense. But a Missouri timeout with 14 seconds on the clock allowed her to jump in the air again and get mobbed by her teammates.
After playing good defense on Colorado’s best player, the Tigers were beat by a player who had only scored two points before making the late 3-pointer.
“It’s a tough play to swallow,” Brown said. “But you look at the score and you’re still only down by two.”
Although the game featured just 19 total turnovers, both teams shot less than 40 percent, leading to a back and forth game that came down to the final minute. The Buffaloes played better when it mattered the most.
“Neither team played great,” Lappe said. “That’s what you have to do. You have to make big plays at big moments.”
Although Missouri wasn’t able to make the big play at the end, Missouri coach Robin Pingeton was more upset about what led to that point.
“It’s a 40-minute game,” Pingeton said. “I felt like there was about 30 minutes there where we didn’t have the energy we needed for one reason or another.”
The loss drops Missouri to 12-16 overall and 4-10 in Big 12 Conference play. Despite only four conference wins, Saturday was one of several games Missouri had a chance to win in the closing minutes.
“It tells us a lot about ourselves,” Brown said. “We know how good we can be. We just have to prove it every night.”
In the past, close losses have led Pingeton to think the Tigers were getting closer to the level they need to be at. She didn’t get that feeling Saturday.
“Our approach going into today’s game was just unacceptable,” Pingeton said. “I’m really disappointed.”
While Spears and Jeffery carried Colorado for most of the game, Brown and Christine Flores did the same for Missouri. Brown had 17 points, while Flores scored a team-high 18 points and had 14 rebounds. She had a double-double in the second half alone with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Missouri’s next game is against No. 3 Baylor at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Waco, Texas.