COLUMBIA, Mo. - Despite never leading in the game, the Lady Tigers nearly knocked off the Kansas Jayhawks in an exciting Saturday evening at Mizzou Arena.
The Tigers were set up to force overtime, having possession with twenty seconds left down by two. Senior Jessra Johnson tried to tie the game with a shot in the paint, but the Jayhawks swatted the ball out of bounds with 3.4 seconds left to play. The Tigers then had a chance to take the lead with a last second three-point attempt from senior Amanda Hanneman on the in-bounds pass, but the shot bounced off the far side of the rim as time expired.
Kansas held the lead against Missouri for over thirty-seven minutes of the game, but were not able to keep the Tigers from within striking distance. The Jayhawks lead never exceeded double digits in the second half.
Kansas head coach Bonnie Hendrickson called it a great fan game with scoring going back and forth for much of the game. Hendrickson cited early foul trouble for Missouri junior RaeShara Brown as a key factor in the Jayhawks being able to lead so much of the game.
Freshman Carolyn Davis led the Jayhawks in scoring with 20 points and added 9 rebounds. Davis went 5-for-7 from the field and a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Senior Danielle McCray gave the Tigers trouble from behind the arc, shooting four-for seven in three point attempts as she added 19 points.
McCray said this was a big game for the Jayhawks to win after allowing Missouri to comeback from a first half deficit.
Three Tigers scored in the double digits, led by Johnson with 16 points and 7 rebounds. The Tigers shot just 35.6 percent from the field, due in part to shooting a combined 3-for-16 from beyond the arc while Kansas hit 50 percent of their three point tries.
"The ball's not falling our way right now, but eventually it will," Brown said.
Missouri head choach Cindy Stein said the Jayhawks steady pressure on defense made it hard for the Tigers to get open looks. "Any shot you got, you had to earn," she said.
Another key factor was Kansas out rebounding the Tigers with 44-to-26 as the Jayhawks picked up 17 offensive rebounds.
"We let them have too many second chance points," Stein said. "I think that hurt us."
Davis played a large role in the rebounding difference. "When she's on weakside boards it is hard to move her," Stein said. "She's got a big pressure."
This loss drops the Tigers to 12-9 on the season and 1-6 in conference play.