Missouri home games against Big 12 Conference opponents are becoming a recurring nightmare for the Tigers.
Following an all-too-familiar script, Missouri mounted an impressive comeback but fell short in the final seconds against No. 9 Texas Tech on Tuesday at Hearnes Center.
Erin Grant’s clutch layup and a foul against MyEsha Perkins on the Tigers’ final possession allowed Texas Tech to escape with a 73-68 win.
Missouri (13-10, 8-4 Big 12) has lost five of its past six home games, including four by five points or less. The Tigers are 6-6 at Hearnes Center and 1-5 at home against Big 12 opponents.
Texas Tech (22-4, 8-4) snapped a two-game losing streak at Hearnes Center and improved to 5-2 in games decided by five or fewer points.
Missouri trailed by as many as 14 in the second half but used a 9-1 run to cut the Red Raiders’ lead to 69-68 with 1:25 left.
After Missouri forced a Texas Tech shot-clock violation, Perkins missed an opportunity to give the Tigers their first lead when her 10-foot jump shot rolled off the rim and into the hands of Casey Jackson with 40 seconds left.
After a Texas Tech timeout, Grant, a 5-foot-8 sophomore, dribbled around several defenders and made a layup to give the Red Raiders a 71-68 lead with 10 seconds left.
Missouri called a timeout and coach Cindy Stein designed a play to get Evan Unrau the ball for a tying shot, but the play was never given a chance to develop.
As Missouri inbounded the ball, a whistle blew, and Perkins was charged with an illegal screen. The foul turned the ball over to Texas Tech and ended Missouri’s chance for last-second heroics, much to the frustration of Unrau.
“We at least want an opportunity to try,” Unrau said. “The last five minutes are intense and everyone is working so hard, at least give us a chance to do something.”
Stein expressed similar sentiments, saying she thought the play was well executed.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Stein said. “The thing is it shouldn’t come down to that but unfortunately it did.”
The final 15 seconds overshadowed an otherwise gritty Missouri comeback effort. After erasing a 10-point Texas Tech lead in the first half, Missouri fell behind by 10 again early in the second but managed to battle back in the last five minutes.
“I am proud of the way our kids fought and scratched and crawled to stay in the game,” Stein said. “There were many times they got 10 to 12 points up on us and we came back. I really felt like we had a good opportunity to win the game, but things didn’t go our way.”
Despite the comeback, Missouri let several opportunities slip away late. The Tigers missed four straight free throws during a 2:30 stretch late in the second half and finished 9-of-15 from the free-throw line.
Missouri was also outrebounded 41-28, and Texas Tech finished with 16 offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points.
“Obviously, our free-throw shooting and our rebounding are two areas that we could have done a better job,” Stein said. “We could have actually won this game, so we have got to get better in these two areas.”
Unrau’s 17 points and 10 rebounds were both game highs. Stretch James finished with 15 points and five blocks for the Tigers.
Sophomore Chesley Dabbs led Texas Tech with 14 points. Freshman Alesha Robertson had 13 points and Grant finished with eight points and seven assists.