Christine Flores, right, works against FSU's Cierra Bravard. The two were high scorers for their respective teams, Bravard with 17, Flores with 16. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
By Darren Hellwege, KBIA Sports Director
With less than a week to tune up before Big 12 conference play, the pressure is increasing for the Missouri Tigers women’s basketball team. And Sunday, the response was disappointing for Mizzou fans as ice-cold shooting from the field doomed the Tigers as they fell to No. 23 Florida State 75-43 before a paid attendance of 1,683 at Mizzou Arena in the first of two straight games against nationally-ranked competition.
How cold was the shooting? The Tigers made just seven of 27 from the field in the first half, and finished with 14 of 53 for 26.4 percent. This, coming after a season-high 54 percent in their previous game against Alabama-Birmingham, was an obvious letdown for coach Robin Pingeton.
“Man, we made it hard on ourselves,” said Pingeton. “We missed a couple of back-to-back layups, it’s hard enough to score against a team like this. You’re going to make it a hard night when you can’t make your layups and free throws.”
“We had a lot of layups that we missed, easy buckets just have to learn to finish,” said Tiger senior RaeShara Brown. “We were trying to get into a rhythm, trying to establish an inside game. Florida State played a pretty solid defense through the whole game. It’s just something that we’re going to have to work on when we get back into the gym.”
Individual statistics show how badly things went for Mizzou. After a season-high 17 points against UAB, Shakara Jones finished this one with five. Sydney Crafton had a career-high 16 against UAB. Sunday, Florida State held her to six. Even the game for Tigers leading scorer Christine Flores had to be considered a setback, as she scored 16 on 5-14 shooting from the field after putting up 28 against UAB.
On two different occasions, the team missed nice in a row from the floor, and they missed their last seven shots. Mizzou also made just eight of 18 from the free throw line.
In spite of beating Mizzou by 32, the Seminoles head coach was complimentary of the Tiger squad. Sue Semrau said she was “scared to death” preparing for the game with Mizzou, “we knew we’d have our hands full guarding those big three [Brown, Jones and Flores].
“I remember when we took over a program that hadn’t won in 10 years and how long it took, you have a great coach in Robin, and she’s gonna take this program places,” said Semrau. “I think already the kids fight so hard, they’re physical, they’ll just keep getting better and better.”
The loss drops the Tigers to 8-5 on the year, while Florida State moves to 12-3. With the loss, Mizzou ends a five-game winning streak. The win was the third in a row for FSU following two losses, including a 93-62 defeat at the hands of Connecticut, which was UConn’s 89th consecutive victory, establishing an all-time record for college basketball by breaking the mark of 88 in a row established by John Wooden’s UCLA teams of the 1970s.
Things get no easier now for the Tigers, as they next play in Cincinnati against Xavier, currently ranked No. 4 in the nation. The Tigers then open their Big 12 season at home on Jan. 8 against Texas.
“These games (FSU and Xavier), all they’re gonna do is make us better if you can keep your mind right,” said Pingeton. “If you allow your mind to wonder, to feel sorry for yourself, it’s gonna be a long, long road ahead. And that’s not what we’re about. We’ve got an opportunity to play two tremendous teams that are gonna challenge us at the highest level possible and we’re going to just try to get better from them.”