There’s more than one way to lose a basketball game.
For the Missouri women’s basketball team this season, there have been 16.
Missouri enters Saturday’s game at Nebraska at 9-16, with a 3-11 mark in the Big 12 Conference.
The Tigers have lost big at home to ranked opponents Stanford and Texas and they’ve had double-digit losses on the road to mediocre teams such as New Mexico and Southwest Missouri State.
Lazy, lackadaisical play coach Cindy Stein called “embarrassing” led to a 60-42 loss to Kansas on Feb. 5 at Mizzou Arena.
Wednesday, despite improved play and consistent offense, the Tigers found another way to lose, falling 76-70 to visiting Iowa State.
The Tigers never trailed by more than 11 and took a three-point lead with 4 minutes left.
The Cyclones, though, seemed confident Missouri would eventually succumb.
“We kept waiting for us to pull away and get ahead by a lot,” Iowa State senior Anne O’Neil said.
When Missouri took the lead with 4 minutes left, Iowa State senior Katie Ronhovde said her team was thinking, “OK, let’s go now.”
The Cyclones were more relieved than excited to win at Missouri.
Stein appeared satisfied the Tigers were able to be competitive.
“I am proud of this team, despite the loss,” Stein said. “When they show that kind of effort, I feel confident in us playing anybody.”
Stein said the Tigers have shown more consistency on offense since the loss to Kansas. But throughout the season losing has been about the only thing the Tigers have been able to do consistently.
Tigers point guard LaToya Bond didn’t seem happy about the game’s outcome.
“It’s fun out there on the court, but afterward it’s not too much fun,” she said. “We wanted to come out with a win.”
She has a right to be disappointed. A win against the Cyclones would have justified Stein’s claims of improvement since the Kansas game. Instead, the end-of-the-game collapse just showed the Tigers another way to lose.
Missouri lost in a similar fashion when they hosted Nebraska on Jan. 8.
In that game, Missouri took a 13-point lead late in the second half, but did not hit a field goal for the last nine minutes and 45 seconds. The Huskers scored the final nine points for an 81-74 victory.
Kansas City native Kiera Hardy scored 23, including the first seven of the second half, to help the Huskers overcome a nine-point halftime deficit. Hardy leads the Huskers with 21 points per game.
Missouri’s leading scorer, Tiffany Brooks, scored a season-high 30. She has been in double-digits for the past three games, scoring 19 to lead Missouri on Wednesday. Brooks’ scoring might determine if the Tigers can find a way to win on Saturday.
While it’s past time for Missouri to turn its season around, the Tigers still have an opportunity to gain some respect within their conference. With every loss it gets harder for them to find positives about their play.
The Tigers’ decision to work harder and expend more effort was evident against Iowa State, but Bond’s disappointment, not Stein’s pride, was the most telling emotion of the night.
For the Tigers, the Nebraska game will be about finding a way to win.