Sloppy is the word that best describes the final regular-season women’s basketball game at Hearnes Center on Saturday.
Despite committing 21 turnovers, Missouri snapped its four-game home losing streak, beating Iowa State 63-58 in a Big 12 Conference game.
Iowa State committed 22 turnovers and neither team shot better than 40 percent as their collective ineptitude led to another nail-biting finish at home for the Tigers.
Thanks to solid free-throw shooting down the stretch, Missouri improved to 280-102 in its 30-year history at Hearnes Center. The Tigers could play at Hearnes again if they are invited to the WNIT next month.
Missouri (15-11, 6-9 Big 12) moves into a tie with Iowa State (13-14, 6-9) for eighth in the Big 12 standings. Missouri coach Cindy Stein said beating the Cyclones keeps Missouri’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Stein said the emotion surrounding the final home game for the Tigers’ five seniors caused her team to struggle, but winning overshadowed those struggles.
“People are going to see the ‘W’ and they won’t know about all this other stuff,” Stein said.
Clutch play down the home stretch
With 1:15 left and the game tied at 54, Missouri’s Megan Roney rebounded LaToya Bond’s miss and made a 15-foot jumper to give the Tigers a 56-54 lead.
Iowa State’s Lisa Kreiener traveled on the ensuing possession, and Bond made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Tigers a 57-54 lead with 51 secondsleft.
After an Iowa State timeout, Megan Ronhovde missed a 3-pointer, and the Tigers made six free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal the win. Missouri was 21-for-23 from the free-throw line.
“Free throws won the game today,” Stein said. “Making your free throws takes the pressure off of you and puts the pressure on them, and that’s the way every head coach would prefer it.”
Evan Unrau, who electrified the Hearnes Center crowd with a 40-point performance against Kansas State on Feb. 22, struggled offensively, making 1-of-7 shots.
Unrau’s goal with eight minutes left put the Tigers ahead 46-45. Despite her poor shooting, she made all 12 of her free-throw attempts and finished with 14 points.
“You have those nights that it doesn’t go in and I think you have to find other ways to be effective,” Unrau said. “I thought getting to the free-throw line was a good way of getting on the board.”
Game marked by inconsistent playMissouri opened with an 8-0 run, but the Tigers struggled for much of the half. Bond and MyEsha Perkins, Missouri’s starting guards, watched the last five minutes of the half on the bench with three fouls, and the Tigers trailed 29-28 at halftime.
Several long scoring droughts early in the second half kept both teams from finding a rhythm on offense and extending a lead. Stein said though her team’s offensive struggles are nothing new, she is proud of how her team responded.
“It’s kind of been typical of our team all year,” Stein said. “We kind of go through those spells and then we gather together and find a way to get back into the thick of it.”
Stretch James led all scorers with 21 points. Roney had eight points and eight rebounds for the Tigers and Anne O’Neil led the Cyclones with 13 points.