COLUMBIA — In its biggest test of the season so far, the MU women’s basketball team found itself down by one to Arkansas with 6:09 to play Wednesday at Mizzou Arena. Everything fell apart from there. The Tigers had three turnovers and two points the rest of the way and lost 66-53.
“It’s very frustrating because we were so close,” coach Cindy Stein said. “If we make a couple better decisions at the end of the game, then I think we’re in it. We’ve got to do a better job of being in those situations that got away from us in the end.”
It was the first time playing in a close game late against a team from a marquee conference for most players other than junior guard Alyssa Hollins. The team’s inexperience showed as the game slipped away.
“I think we started out a little nervous. We hit a spell in the second half where we were a little nervous,” Stein said. “We need to play with a lot more confidence. That’s where I think we waver.”
Hollins said that playing in that late-game situation against the 7-0 Razorbacks in November will only help the Tigers (3-3) when a similar game rolls around later in the season.
“It’s all about building confidence,” Hollins said. “The girls are going to figure out how to react in these situations, and next time will be easier.”
The game provided more than practice in a late-game situation for MU. Playing against an SEC team gave the Tigers a better look at what they will be up against when their conference season begins in January.
“They (the younger players) saw the speed we’re going to have to play at,” Hollins said. “It’s a little bit of a taste of what it’s going to be like in the Big 12.”
Stein lauded the team’s work ethic defensively, but said MU will have to improve on the .262 shooting percentage it had against the Razorbacks.
“In some areas we’re pretty good,” Stein said. “I think this team runs our offense better than we’ve had teams do. It’s just a matter right now of knocking shots down. We’re getting shots, but we’ve got to make them. It’s one thing to shoot a lot, but you better be making a few of those. That’s sometimes nerves.”