Tigers rally to defeat Huskers

Thursday, February 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:07 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

After losing three close games at home, Missouri decided to make its move on the road.

After trailing most of the game, the Missouri women’s basketball team rallied in the second half to win 78-76 against Nebraska on Wednesday in Lincoln, Neb.

Missouri (14-11, 5-9 Big 12 Conference) trailed by as many as 17 points during the second half, but went on a 21-6 run to close the game.

“It was just one of those games that was just really tough to probably play in, to coach in, but the same time I’d say I am extremely proud of them because we deserve this and we hung in there,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “We have kind of made it our motto that we’re not going away, and I think we proved that tonight.”

Missouri has struggled at home, losing three games by fewer than five points to ranked opponents, including a 93-90 double-overtime loss to No. 8 Kansas State on Sunday.

Wednesday’s game was the first of three games Missouri needs to win if it hopes to have a shot at the NCAA tournament.

Streaky scoring

Nebraska led 42-32 at half and extended its lead to 59-42 before Missouri senior Evan Unrau, a forward, hit her first field goal of the night with 13:48 left. Coming off a 40-point game Sunday, Unrau struggled in the first half, making 0-of-6.

Unrau recovered in the second half and her first field goal sparked a 7-0 Missouri run, but Nebraska’s Margaret Richards’ 3-pointer stopped the Tigers’ momentum.

The Cornhuskers (16-9, 6-8) tried to extend the lead behind senior forward Alexa Johnson and freshman guard Kiera Hardy.

Johnson’s 20 points and Hardy’s 21 couldn’t save Nebraska as the Cornhuskers’ offense stalled while leading 70-57 with 6:55 left.

Missouri finally found its rhythm behind 3-pointers from senior guards MyEsha Perkins and Tracy Lozier. Lozier’s 3-pointer was her first since playing at Iowa State on Feb. 7.

Unrau gave the Tigers a 76-74 lead with 41 seconds left, but Johnson’s two free throws tied it with 26 seconds left.

After a Missouri timeout, Unrau inbounded the ball to sophomore guard LaToya Bond who passed to freshman forward EeTisha Riddle for the back-door layup.

Nebraska brought the ball up court, but senior guard Keasha Cannon-Johnson dropped the ball out of bounds.

“I think that we kept kind of creeping into the lead, I think that was the key,” Stein said.

Despite having four players in double-figures, the Cornhuskers failed to make a field goal in the last 8:37.

Frequent free throws

Foul trouble plagued both teams, with Unrau sitting on the bench for the final 13:38 of the first half after picking up two in 23 seconds. Lozier continued to struggle with her shot and showed her frustration; picking up three fouls in the first half.

Both teams took advantage of the fouls, with Nebraska making 15-of-15 free throws and Missouri making 6-of-6 in the first half.

Nebraska’s final six points were all from the free-throw line.

Missouri led 6-4 early, but played catch-up much of the first half after a 14-2 run by Nebraska. The Tigers got within three points of the lead three times before the Cornhuskers took the 10-point lead at the half.

“I told the official, probably at the 10 minute mark of the first half, I think this could be the ugliest game we’ve both been a part of,” Stein said. “It was brutal.”

“When we can get four to five kids in double-figures for us I think it was a good night for us,” Stein said.

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