Tigers hope history lends helping hand

Friday, February 18, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:07 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 27, 2008

The Missouri women’s basketball team is hoping history will repeat itself this weekend.

The most recent time Missouri played Oklahoma, Jan. 28, 2004, the No. 20 Sooners were 13-5, but the unranked Tigers won 77-65. Four seniors scored in double digits to lead Missouri.

On Saturday in Norman, Okla., the Tigers will try to pull off another upset. The task might be a bit tougher this season. No current Tiger played more than 10 minutes in last year’s game.

Although this year’s Oklahoma team (14-9, 6-6 Big 12 Conference) is unranked, the Sooners have a two-game winning streak, including a 77-61 upset of No. 18 Kansas State.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said the win against Kansas State gave her team some confidence.

“I’m just thrilled for how they played and for how much fun they had together,” Coale said. “It’s nice to see them smiling in the locker-room afterwards.”

Missouri coach Cindy Stein hasn’t gotten to see much smiling this season. Stein has not coached a victory since Jan. 5 against Oklahoma State. The Tigers’ two most recent wins came when Stein was absent because of her father’s death. In Stein’s first game back, on Wednesday, Missouri lost 74-57 to No. 7 Baylor.

Despite the loss, Stein said she liked the effort she saw out of her team.

“Our energy was good,” Stein said. “Offensively we had good spacing and good movement.”

Tiffany Brooks and LaToya Bond have played well for the Tigers recently. Bond has scored in double digits in each of the past three games, and Brooks came out of a slump to score 19 against Baylor. She went 9-for-9 at the free-throw line and scored Missouri’s final 12 points.

“I’ve just been trying to keep everyone together,” Bond said. “And try to get us not to turn our backs on each other like we always do.”

After leading the team with 23 points against Texas A&M, junior Christelle N’Garsanet faded against Baylor. The 6-foot-3 center scored five points while giving up 31 to opposing center Steffanie Blackmon.

“Blackmon was just too tough, a handful,” Stein said.

On Saturday, N’Garsanet and the Tigers will have to contain 6-1 sophomore Leah Rush, Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer. Rush averages 15 points and six rebounds. Against Colorado on Wednesday, she led the Sooners with 19.

All-American guard Dionnah Jackson, a native of St. Louis and a Parkway High grad, is another key player for the Tigers to focus on Saturday. Jackson, the 2004 Big 12 Tournament MVP, averages 15 points and eight rebounds. She went 5-for-5 against Colorado, with six assists and five rebounds in 25 minutes of play.

“Dionnah Jackson is a terrific player on both ends of the court,” Stein said.

In last year’s game, the Tigers held Jackson to nine points and four rebounds.

Stein said for the Tigers to win, all her players need to perform well.

“We’re a very good team when everyone plays together,” Stein said. “And when we try to do it ourselves, we’re very bad.”

Missouri hopes its teamwork, and last year’s history, will be enough to give the Tigers their first victory in six years at Oklahoma’s Lloyd Noble Center.

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