Missouri knows to expect tough inside play in the Big 12 Conference; dealing with it on the other hand is being worked on.
Aggressive inside play helped No. 9 Texas Tech defeat the Missouri women’s basketball team 73-68 on Tuesday at Hearnes Center.
“If there are some keys, obviously our free-throw shooting and our rebounds are two areas where we could have done a better job in,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said.
The Lady Raiders outrebounded Missouri 41-28, getting 20 in the first half.
Texas Tech scored 26 points inside in the first half behind Cisti Greenwalt, a 6-foot-5 junior center. Greenwalt, who had nine points and six rebounds, rolled her right ankle with 4:11 left in the first half and did not return.
“A lot of the things that were happening to us inside in the first half went away in the second half,” Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. “We outrebounded them, which probably was a difference for us.”
Missouri’s defense improved in the second half and allowed 12 points inside.
“I think a big reason is Greenwalt is out of the game,” Stein said. “I thought defensively we did a better job. I thought we were much more active defensively.”
Missouri is without senior center Melanie Fisher, who strained her lower-back against Colorado on Jan. 31. Fisher, who has not practiced since she was injured, is a vocal leader and has a good understanding of the physical inside play in the Big 12.
Senior forward Stretch James led the Tigers inside, finishing with 15 points and three rebounds.
Freshman center EeTisha Riddle scored a career-high eight, all in the first half. Her last shot tied the game at 33 with 2:56 left.
“EeTisha has been playing real well; I think she rebounds well and she has been talking real well, she has given us an energy lift,’’ Stein said. “Those are things she did again tonight. She was in there in key defensive stops and I thought she was working real well with Stretch in there.”
Missouri had help inside from junior center Megan Roney and sophomore center Christelle N’Garsanet, who each scored five.
BIG 12 BOUND: In the postgame interview, Sharp said she thinks Missouri should make the NCAA Tournament.
“I think they are good enough to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Sharp said.
“I have DirectTV and I watch a lot of other conferences at all hours of the day and night sometimes when I am home, and I’ll tell you they are better than a lot of people that are that are going to win conferences around this country.
“There is no question we deserve to get eight in, and I am going to say that from now until it’s decided because I think we are that deep. And I think when you think about the schedule that everyone has had to play, take your pick, RPI, rankings in the country, anything you want to look at and to have to fight through that game after game, I think you should be rewarded for that.”
UNRAU DOUBLES UP AGAIN: Senior forward Evan Unrau scored 17 and had 10 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season and her sixth in conference play.
ABSENT TIGER: Freshman Carlynn Savant was not at the game. Savant was at home because of an illness in the family. Stein said she will be back for Sunday’s game against No. 8 Kansas State.
TOUGH TWO: Missouri is in the midst of hosting back-to-back ranked opponents. It is the first time since 1994, when Missouri upset No. 6 Kansas 78-77 and then lost to No. 5 Colorado 62-50.