Christine Flores is helped off the floor after an injury to her leg. She would quickly return, putting up 23 points on the night. (Photo by Chris Spurlock)
By Darren Hellwege, KBIA Sports Director
In one of the more exciting games seen at Mizzou Arena in some time, the Missouri Tigers women’s basketball team scored the final 11 points in regulation and beat Oklahoma State 71-65 in overtime Wednesday.
The game had many great individual performances but none as impressive as that of Christine Flores, who literally had to be picked up off the floor after being injured in the second half, only to come back into the game a few minutes later and lead the Tigers to the win with 23 points on the night.
“I just set all my fears aside and put it all on the line tonight,” said Flores, who has battled through several injuries this season. At one point in the second half, Flores was knocked to the floor, had to be helped to the sidelines and appeared woozy, but less than five minutes later she was back on the court.
The win looked awfully improbable at times. After a close first half, Mizzou went cold and midway through the second half had scored just six points and trailed the game by 13. But it was a night on which the Tigers simply would not accept defeat.
“There was a moment when we saw the coach was battling for us,” said senior RaeShara Brown, delicately raising the issue of a technical foul the Tigers bench picked up. “It lit something under me, and we just vowed we weren’t going to lose. We picked up our intensity on defense.” That intensity grew as the game got closer, and later, and Oklahoma State would score their last field goal in regulation with over nine minutes left.
Coach Robin Pingeton expressed great pride in her team following the victory. “They just rallied around each other and said ‘we’re not going down’. I’m really proud of them.”
As excited as the Tigers were following the game, the loss was just as devastating for the Cowgirls. Afterwards, a subdued coach Kurt Budke blamed the loss on his own players. “I can’t make free throws, and I can’t make two foot shots, they have to do that and tonight they just didn’t.”
Budke noted his team’s youth, saying “they were just looking at each other waiting for everyone else to make a play.” Budke was harshly critical of his team’s star, sophomore Toni Young who in spite of scoring 22 points and grabbing 22 rebounds had her game described by Coach Budke as “terrible.”
And Budke was especially right about the issue of free throws. Mizzou made them, and OSU didn’t, especially in the overtime period when Missouri was 12-18, and Oklahoma State made only one of eight.
In addition to the 23 from Flores, the Tigers got scoring from RaeShara Brown with 20 to go along with eight rebounds. Before the game, Brown was honored by the MU Athletic Department in recognition of her becoming the all-time steals leader in program history. She passed Tiger legend Joni Davis during Mizzou’s loss at Oklahoma last weekend, and grabbed six more thefts Wednesday to stand at 256 and counting for her career.
Mizzou moves to 12-13 overall, and 4-7 in Big 12 play, the second time in the last four years the Tigers have won as many as four games, with five games remaining. The Tigers travel this weekend to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the arch-rival Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Cowgirls are 15-9, 3-8 in the Big 12.