Lack of offense hurts Tiger women's basketball in loss

Despite a strong defense, the Tigers suffer.
Freshman guard Bekah Mills attempts a shot as Oklahoma State center Jennifer Wallenmeyer deflects the ball during Wednesday's game at Mizzou Arena. With a 68-60 loss to the Cowgirls, the Tigers fell to 1-5 in the Big 12.

This season has been a roller coaster ride for the Missouri Tigers women's basketball team. The team started just 1-4, then quickly turned around and won eight in a row. However, those good feelings have evaporated during Missouri's current 1-4 slump. While the offense might be sagging, the Tigers' defense continues to play at a high level, and keeps the team competitive against strong opponents.

"We have to be strong on defense," senior guard Alyssa Hollins said. "We're struggling on the other end of the floor. Coach emphasizes defense. We know exactly what the other team is going to do. We knew (Oklahoma State junior guard Andrea) Riley was going to be a handful, but we didn't want to let anyone else go off along with her. We take pride in stuff like that."

But the Tigers could not contain Riley, as she torched them for 30 points in Wednesday night's 68-60 loss to Oklahoma State. But there were some positives in the game.

Coming into play Wednesday, the OSU's 75.6 points per game is ranked No. 12 in the nation. Missouri was able to hold the high-scoring Cowgirls to 68 points, a modest victory for the team. And while Riley seemed to be able to score at will, the Tigers did a nice job of containing the rest of OSU's arsenal.

"You have to have confidence in your defense," coach Cindy Stein said. "I felt like we could challenge every shot. We wanted to make sure we were forcing them a little wide, picking them up early, contain them so they didn't get so much into their offense. For the most part we did those things really well."

The strong defense is nothing new to the team. On the season, opponents are averaging just over 57 points per game against the Tigers, which puts them in the middle of the highly competitive Big 12 Conference and ahead of ranked teams such as Oklahoma.

During a three-game stretch from Dec. 3-14, Missouri held teams to 42.3 points per game. Even more impressive were the steals. In that stretch, MU was averaging 19 steals per game. On the season, the Tigers steal the ball an average of 10.7 times per game, good for second in the conference.

Early in Wednesday's game, the team was struggling on offense. With only six points in the first 10 minutes, it appeared Missouri was in for a long night. But because of the strong defense, MU was able to battle back and gain momentum going into the half.

"Our defense is pretty good," junior guard Toy Richbow said. "I feel like when we have good defensive moments, we sometimes get caught up in our feelings. But we can get better."

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