Mizzou women fall in final seconds to Colorado

Christine Flores scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for her second double-double of the season in Mizzou's loss to Colorado Saturday. (Photo by Chris Spurlock)

By Darren Hellwege, KBIA Sports Director

Both Colorado and Missouri came into the 2010-2011 season with new coaches and hoping to turn around programs that had struggled in recent years after past success. But it was Colorado who came away celebrating Saturday as a close game was won by the Buffs when Britney Blythe, who had just two points on the day prior, hit a three-point shot off an offensive rebound to put the Buffs ahead with 15 seconds left, and they hung on to win 63-59 at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers fall with the loss to 12-16 overall on the year, 4-10 in Big 12 play.

The Buffs led through much of the game after MU took an early lead. But with about 4 minutes left Shakara Jones scored to put the Tigers on top 55-53, and it looked like the Tigers might be able to get their elusive 5th conference victory. And with about 2 minutes left a RaeShara Brown layup put the Tigers up four. The Tigers held the lead until the final moment. CU Senior Brittany Spears missed a 3-pointer, but the Buffs’ Julie Seabrook managed to come down with the rebound and find Blythe open at the top of the key. And her 3-pointer was the winner for CU.

“We didn’t really have our offense going today” said Colorado coach Linda Lappe, “maybe that (the miss and rebound) was the best offense we could have gotten at that point.”

The Tigers had a chance to win it in the final seconds but what looked like an open path for a layup for Brown was blocked by freshman Rachel Hargis and when Colorado rebounded the miss, it was all but over.

“I thought I had a clear path, but she (Hargis) came up and contested the best way she knew how,” said Brown, her disappointment visible.

“We had too many trips we took off this game, we weren’t following up for rebounds.”

Brown wasn’t the only Tiger upset with Mizzou’s effort on the night. Ordinarily upbeat, even after tough losses, coach Robin Pingeton was critical. “We had way too many empty possessions,” she said. “We want to be playing our best at this point, going into the tournament. Our approach tonight was just unacceptable, really disappointing.”

The loss was Mizzou’s third in a row, and fifth in six games. With just two conference games left, Mizzou will have to come up with a win to avoid finishing with four wins in the Big 12 for the third time in the last five seasons, with even fewer the other two.

But even with her disappointment in the effort, Pingeton acknowledged it’s a difficult time for her team. “What we’re going through is tough, we’ve had some gut-wrenching losses.” The team has lost twice in overtime in February.

Christine Flores led the Tigers with 18 points and 14 rebounds, it was her second double-double on the season, her first since opening day. Brown added 17, and Jasmyn Otote had 8. Spears led the way for Colorado with 26 points and 9 rebounds.

The Tigers next play their final road game of the regular season, traveling to Waco, Texas to take on No. 3 Baylor and their superstar Brittney Griner. Griner, a sophomore, is currently second in the Big 12 in scoring (22.4 ppg) 4th in rebounds (8.0) and averages 4.6 blocks a game, second in the nation.

The Tigers then return home to wrap up the season against Iowa State on March 5. Mizzou will honor Tiger Seniors RaeShara Brown, Jasmyn Otote and Shakara Jones.

Notes: The Tigers honored the program’s history at history, introducing several former players and Mizzou’s all-time winningest coach in women’s hoops, JoAnn Rutherford, who led the team from 1975-1998. The crowd greeted Rutherford, the Big 8’s Coach of the Decade in the 1980s, with a standing ovation. Rutherford said she still follows the program closely, and has stayed in touch with most of her former players. Rutherford was inducted into the University of Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

Colorado’s star senior Brittany Spears became the 2nd player in Colorado women’s basketball history to pass the 2,000 point mark in the game, finishing the day with 2,011. With two regular season games left and then at least one in the Big 12 tourney in Kansas City, Spears has a chance to become the all-time scoring leader in the program’s rich history. The mark is currently held by one of the Big 8’s legends, Lisa Van Goor, who scored 2,067 while playing for coach Ceal Barry in the early 1980s. Van Goor also holds the team record for rebounds, field goals, blocks, and double-doubles. Spears needs 56 points to tie Van Goor, and averages 17.4 a game so if she scores right on average and plays just one game in Kansas City she’d have 52.

The game Saturday will probably be the last for a while between the schools, as Colorado leaves the Big 12 for the Pac-10 after this season. It was the 69th meeting between the schools, the most of any opponent for the Buffs. Colorado leads the series 42-27.

One key stat in a game the Tigers lost by four points–Mizzou missed seven free throws in the game. They shot 12-19, just 63 percent. However, that’s actually a little above the team’s average for the season, Missouri has made just 61.9 percent of it’s free throws this season…ranking last in the Big 12.

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