Cyclones fold under pressure of MU senior night

Saturday, March 5, 2011 | 11:53 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Emotion overcame RaeShara Brown after the game. When the clock read all zeros and the buzzer sounded at Mizzou Arena, the Missouri senior dropped the ball and ran to the painted tiger at half court with both fists in the air. The rest of the Missouri women's basketball team followed, rushing to Brown at half court.

Brown and fellow senior Jasmyn Otote embraced each other after the players broke up their group hug. The teammates have developed a close relationship during their four years at Missouri. It was their final home game.

Brown rubbed her eyes with her fingers in a postgame interview. She began to cry.

"To be able to go out like that with her, it’s an amazing feeling," Brown said. "I just had to let her know that. I wouldn’t trade this season for anything in the world."

Missouri won its fifth Big 12 Conference game this season with a 49-48 victory over No. 23 Iowa State on Saturday at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers have not accumulated five conference wins since 2007.

The Tigers rarely draw more than 2,000 spectators at Mizzou Arena, which holds up to 15,061. But on Saturday, the arena held 2,504 pairs of eyes. 

"When you play Senior Night, everyone's a little more jacked up," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "I told our kids, this will be their NCAA Tournament game. To build a culture of how you play basketball, it starts at home."

The occasion also affected junior Christine Flores, who also could not contain her emotions after the game. Her eyes filled with tears just minutes into the postgame interview.

"I love my seniors. They are family to me," Flores said. "This year especially, we have grown so much together. The fact that we won like this, and we came out on top, it's all emotion."

Brown finished the game with a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds. She became the 29th Tiger player to surpass the 1,000-point mark. Otote and Shakara Jones, the third senior on the Tigers' roster this season, added 13 points and six rebounds.

Anna Prins, a 6-foot-7-inch center, came off the bench for Iowa State to score 18 points, the only Cyclone player to score in double-digit figures.

"For our program today where we’re at, this is so much bigger than the box score," coach Robin Pingeton said. "This is about laying the foundation for the future of our program as we continue to climb away out of the trenches."

Otote, a spot up 3-point shooter, has seen limited accuracy most of her career. This season, the guard shot 23 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. After her last regular season game, she had 71 career 3-pointers.

"She's been in and out of the lineup, but she never hung her head," Pingeton said about Otote. "When you do that, things are bound to turn for you. I’m not surprised to see her hit big shots for us tonight at all."

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