COLUMBIA — On Valentine's Day at Mizzou Arena, it was a true heartbreaker for the Missouri women's basketball team, which lost 56-52 against reigning national champion Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
Brilliant 3-point shooting from freshman Morgan Eye and senior Christine Flores wasn't enough to upset the No. 14 Aggies and give the Tigers their first conference win of the season.
It was hard to tell at times whether Eye or Flores was the most dangerous player on the court for the Tigers. Eye scored 19 points to better her previous career high of 16. Flores, whose scoring has declined in recent games, had 20 points, most of which came in the second half.
"Flores is a great player," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "She went for 20 points, a double-double against kids I recruited over her, so maybe I made a mistake."
Missouri led for much of the first half and had built a 50-45 advantage with about 4 minutes to play. However, the Tigers scoring disappeared, and Texas A&M scored 11 straight points to surge ahead. Flores' final basket of the game with 2 seconds left was the only response the Tigers could muster.
Although Texas A&M escaped Columbia with a victory, Blair admitted Missouri played better than his team.
"Missouri outplayed us today, they should have won the ball game," Blair said. "Missouri has been in so many ball games this year. Right now, they're not mature enough and old enough to finish some of those games."
Still, the Tigers are improving with every game. Missouri made 10-of-21 3-point shots, nine of which came from Eye and Flores. The Tigers also out-rebounded the defending national champions 30-29.
Despite the Tigers' losing streak in the conference, Blair was quick to say how impressed he is with many aspects of Missouri coach Robin Pingeton's program — especially the energy Tigers players have on the bench — and told fans to be patient.
"The one thing you all never see as fans, there is not a bench in the league that gets up and cheers their teammates on more than Missouri," he said. "It's easy to get a bench up and wave that towel when you're winning. It's very special and Robin's doing the right thing. She's going to win a ball game. Be patient with her."
Although Pingeton and her players are eager for a victory, they still continue to focus on what Pingeton calls "little victories" until the wins start coming.
"We will win here, we will absolutely win here, and we're going to win a lot of games here," she said. "(But) if we allow ourselves to be defined by that scoreboard, it's going to be a miserable season."
Missouri kept pace with Texas A&M for the entire first half, consistently responding to Aggies baskets, thanks largely to Eye's 3-point shooting in the last 12 minutes. She made four 3-point shots and scored 14 points in the first half, and the game was tied at 29 at halftime.