This was Tiffany Brooks’ game, until the final two minutes.
“It was unbelievable,” Missouri women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein said. “(Brooks) made some incredible shots, and as I told her at halftime, we kind of rode her back the whole first half. We needed some other kids to step up.”
Nebraska broke the Tigers’ three-game winning streak with an 81-74 victory against Missouri on Saturday night at Mizzou Arena, despite Brooks 30 points, five assists, and five rebounds.
The Tigers (7-6, 1-1) did not score a field goal for the final 9 minutes, 46 seconds, negating Brooks performance and giving Nebraska (10-4, 2-0) its fourth straight victory.
Missouri held a 10-point lead for most of the game, but the last few minutes stumped the Tigers.
“We got so frustrated and rattled at times,” Stein said. “It just came down to they made the plays at the end of the game and we didn’t.”
With 2:45 left, Nebraska’s Jina Johansen saw Danielle Page all alone underneath the basket.
Johansen threw a pass into Page, who made a powerful move on the block, made the basket, and was fouled by the Tigers’ Megan Roney.
Page missed the free throw, but Missouri led just 73-72.
After Brooks converted one-of-two free throws, Johansen drove down the right side of the lane and scored to tie at 74.
Brooks came down the court and tried to do what she had done all night; drive and score, but she met Page who blocked her shot.
Nebraska took a 76-74 lead on a Jessica Gerhart turnaround hook shot, and it never looked back.
Gerhart finished with a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
“The last few minutes I think we got lackadaisical and thought that we had it,” Brooks said. “You can’t do that against great teams like Nebraska and in the Big 12.”
“Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed,” Stein said. “Us not scoring the last nine minutes of the game, I mean you can’t win a ball game if you’re not going to be able to score some points,” Stein said.
The game was physical, and both teams got in foul trouble.
Missouri’s center Christelle N’Garsanet and point guard LaToya Bond had to take time on the bench in the second half and N’Garsanet fouled out with seven minutes to go.
Nebraska sent the Tigers’ into the bonus with 13:09 left.
Brooks’ free-throw shooting was a big lift for the Tigers. Brooks’ was 14-for- 17 from the line.
Missouri’s Carlynn Savant play off the bench was also big for Missouri.
“Carlynn’s been giving us a huge lift off the bench,” Stein said.
Savant could not miss a 3-pointer early, but she was unable to connect twice in the final 22 seconds.
Savant was 4-for-6 from behind the 3-point line and finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“I was so proud of them in the first half,” Stein said.
Missouri led Nebraska 47-31 at the half.
Brooks used the lane and abused the Nebraska defense to dominate the first half, shooting 7-for-12 and scoring 17 points.
The Tigers also found their rhythm shooting from beyond the 3-point line. in the first half.
Savant shot from the top of the key to make her first long distance basket. It put Missouri up 12-10, and it did not trail the rest of the half.
Bond chipped in with two 3-pointers, including one over the Cornhuskers’ LaToya Howell to put Missouri up 24-14.
Missouri shot 60 percent from the 3-point line in the first half.
Driving the lane earned Brooks two three-point plays in two minutes.
With two second left on the shot clock, Brooks drove, stopped, pulled up, and shot over Howell who fouled her.
Missouri went up 26-14 with 7:27 left before halftime.
The Cornhuskers’ Jelena Spiric, Kiera Hardy, and Gerhart all scored in double-digits the first half to keep the team within striking distance.
Spiric finished with 18 points and six rebounds.
Hardy, a 5-foot-6 guard, kept the Missouri defense busy.
Hardy has scored 20 or more points in six of the Cornhuskers’ previous games. She finished with a team-high 23 points.
Missouri shot 51.5 percent in the first half, but only shot 7-for-27 in the second half.
The team is now looking to its next competition.
“We’re going to focus right now on Kansas State,” Stein said. “This game’s going to be out of our head pretty quick.”
Missouri will go on the road to face Kansas State on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.