Missouri off balance

Tigers’ reserves struggle to provide needed scoring.
Thursday, December 11, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:27 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Missouri was out of sync and it showed.

The Missouri women’s basketball team suffered its first home loss of the season 79-70 to Southwest Missouri State on Wednesday night at Hearnes Center.

Missouri coach Cindy Stein said her team didn’t do the things it normally does Wednesday.

“I think Southwest Missouri deserved to win tonight,” Stein said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do.

“We were a little off-sync most of the game. It’s one of those things that happens but I give (SMS) full credit and they deserve the game and they won it.”

Missouri (5-2) started the second half down 42-38. With 13 minutes left, a LaToya Bond 3-pointer sparked an eight-point Missouri run to bring the Tigers back to within 53-52. After a media time-out, SMS (5-1) rallied, going on a 13-2 run to give the team its largest lead of the night, 66-54.

Seniors Evan Unrau and Stretch James combined for 49 points and 18 rebounds. James finished with her second double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds and had a team-leading seven blocks. Unrau led all players with a season-high 28 points.

“They really jumped on us the second half,” Unrau said. “They got a couple of quick baskets on us and I think we were kind of on our heels.”

Missouri got to within one of SMS twice during the second half before the Lady Bears pulled away again. Missouri never led during the second half.

Three Tigers scored in the double figures, with the next closest player only scoring four points. Stein said her team needs to have more people putting up points.

“I don’t think we ever had five people on the floor looking to score,” Stein said. “I think we always had two to three, and against a team like this that is hungry and that wants to win, you can’t play like that.”

Unrau, James and Bond combined for 53 of the points and all started the game.

“We have to have productivity coming off the bench,” Stein said. “That means you’ve got to make your defensive stops, you’ve got to get your good looks, and you’ve got to rebound, and that is what we didn’t have tonight.”

Kari Koch, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, led the Lady Bears with 23 points. Koch made 7-of-18 from the field and made 8-of-9 free throws. Junior Jenni Lingor came off the bench to score 16 for SMS and senior Meg Tierney finished with 17 points and led the team with nine rebounds.

“I thought the first half was a good half,” Stein said. “I saw some really good things. I thought It was just a matter of trying to get some people along side of them to step up and unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Unrau and James combined for 31 points in the first half. Missouri led early, but SMS stayed right with the Tigers. The score remained close for much of the first half, with nine ties and seven lead changes before a Tierney layup with 21 seconds left in the half gave SMS the lead for good.

“The best thing we can do is regroup, get tougher and prepare for the next,” Stein said.

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