Fans lend Missouri helping hands

An ovation during the men’s game will help motivate the women’s team tonight.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Missouri women’s basketball team received a boost of confidence on Monday night without picking up a basketball.

Lining up in the middle of the court at Mizzou Arena during a time-out of the men’s game against Kansas, Missouri fans rose as one and gave a standing ovation to honor the Tigers’ season, which stands at 13-3 (3-1 Big 12 Conference).

For junior forward EeTisha Riddle, who was standing at center court for the ovation, the applause was almost overwhelming.

“I just wanted to jump and run around the court,” Riddle said. “Everybody was just like ‘Wow, can you believe everything that’s going on here?’ So hopefully they’ll come out and feel that excited about us and continue to support us for the Big 12 season.”

Although Riddle didn’t end up doing a victory lap around the court, it was the kind of moment that Riddle said her team could feed off offor tonight’s game against Colorado at Mizzou Arena.

Coach Cindy Stein said that not only did the ovation help the team’s confidence, but it also shows how far the team has come this season.

“I thought there was great energy,” Stein said. “That was awesome and you always want your team to be confident. Anytime you have that confidence and other people are helping with that, it’s a great motivator. I thought it would be great to get that kind of crowd for Colorado.”

Stein said Riddle, one of the team’s best athletes and a high-energy player, draws the unenviable task of trying to stop the Buffaloes’ leading scorer, guard-forward Jasmina Ilic. Riddle said slowing down Ilic will come from playing disciplined defense and resisting the temptation to bite on shot fakes.

“She can do anything on offense,” Riddle said.

“Basically I have to stay down. She throws a lot of fakes and hesitations at you so I have to try and stay down and contest her shots and not try and block all of them.”

It’s that kind of poise that the team said it was missing in the 63-54 loss at Texas. That game snapped Missouri’s 12-game winning streak and is the

only blemish on the Tigers’ conference record.

When asked what went wrong in the loss to Texas, Riddle dropped her shoulders and, knowing it was a game that got away from her team, let a mild groan escape her mouth.

Riddle said the team has learned from that game, in which the Tigers went without a field goal for the final 11 minutes and 20 seconds.

Senior guard LaToya Bond agreed with Riddle and said the team has already moved on from its loss, with some help from Monday night’s tribute.

“We just have to stay confident,” Bond said. “One loss won’t break us.”

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