It’s a good thing the Missouri women’s basketball team is moving to a new arena next season.
The Tigers have not won at Hearnes Center in more than a month and are having better success on the road against Big 12 Conference opponents than at home.
Missouri (14-11, 5-9 Big 12) hosts Iowa State at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Tigers’ final regular-season home game at Hearnes Center.
Hosting WNIT contest is possibility
There is a chance Missouri will host a WNIT game next month, but that might not be much of a prize considering the Tigers are 6-7 at home this year and have lost six of their past seven at Hearnes Center.
The Tigers need to beat the Cyclones to avoid becoming the third MU women’s team to finish a regular-season below .500 at Hearnes Center.
Meanwhile, Missouri is keeping its postseason hopes alive by winning on the road. The Tigers’ 78-76 comeback win Wednesday at Nebraska was their third straight on the road and improved their road record to 7-4.
Coach Cindy Stein said there are several reasons the Tigers have been successful on the road this season.
“We’ve played some great teams at home, and I think that’s the major part of it,” Stein said. “I’d also say this: We don’t get as many people at home in the crowd that we do on the road.
“The excitement and the energy from a crowd whether it is on the road or at home really helps pump teams up. I’m not going to say that is not a factor.”
Missouri is averaging 2,126 fans this season. As of Monday, the Big 12 average was 5,173 fans and Missouri’s attendance ranked 11th in the Big 12.
Stein said she appreciates the loyal fan support, but she also said it couldn’t hurt to have several thousand more fans consistently show up to watch her team.
Those who did attend Missouri’s home games in the past 1 1/2 months saw plenty of great games, but the Tigers won once.
Of Missouri’s six home losses against Big 12 opponents, an average of 3.6 points decided five of them. Missouri’s past four home games were against teams ranked 16th or higher, and the Tigers were in position to win in the final minute of all but one of those games.
Senior bid farewell to Hearnes
Saturday’s game also marks the final regular-season home game for Missouri’s five seniors. EeTisha Riddle, a 6-foot-3 freshman, said earning a win for her older teammates is equally as important as winning the final game at Hearnes Center.
“We need to get (the seniors) another win at home,” Riddle said. “Especially with it being our last home game at the Hearnes Center too, this is going to be a really big game.”
Iowa State (13-12, 6-8) comes in one game ahead of Missouri in the conference standings and tied with Nebraska for seventh. in the Big 12. The Cyclones have lost three of their past four, including a 61-47 loss at Kansas State on Wednesday.
Missouri is on a three-game winning streak against Iowa State. The Tigers beat the Cyclones 81-62 in Ames on Feb. 7.