Missouri women mow down Murray State

Flores carried the Tigers in the absence of suspended players.
Sophomore center Christine Flores steals the ball from Murray State guard Rachael Isom during the game Sunday at Mizzou Arena. Flores, with 16 points, was the top scorer for Sunday's game.

The Missouri women's basketball team moved to 7-2 overall Sunday as it blew out a struggling Murray State team, 71-32. The loss was the fifth straight for the Racers.

Missouri took the court with a different batch of starters for the matchup after senior forwards and leading scorers Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson were suspended indefinitely.

The two were arrested late Thursday on suspicion of third-degree assault of a male member of the Missouri cheerleading squad. Coach Cindy Stein apologized for their actions and said too little is known about the incident to discuss it at this time.

Hanneman and Johnson have carried the team thus far, so their absence allowed lesser-known Tigers to play starring roles in the victory.

“When you lose your two leading scorers, someone has to pick up that pace,” Stein said. “Who’s it going to be?”

Enter sophomore forward Christine Flores. After scoring the first basket of the game, Flores never looked back. She logged a season-high 23 minutes and led all scorers with 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked seven shots.

Despite her first ever double-double, a career-high in rebounds and tying the program record for blocks, Flores could only admire her team’s success.

“I played well, but so did other people,” Flores said. “Everybody stepped up today. It’s not about me. It’s not about any single person. It’s about the team right now.”

The sophomore had never started in a home game before and admitted to being a little nervous. Healing from her ankle injuries has allowed her to gain confidence and overcome the pregame butterflies.

Junior guard RaeShara Brown was the only other Tiger in double figures with 11 points. She also nabbed five steals for the second time this season.

The Tigers returned to their early season habit of building a big lead in the first half and then coasting to the finish. Missouri started the game on a 20-0 run as Murray State went scoreless for the first 11 minutes. The Racers committed 10 turnovers and missed their first 14 field goals out of the gate.

“I am extremely proud of these young ladies,” Stein said. “This was a tough game for us to play. I felt like they were really tight and nervous before the game, but I’m really proud of how they came in and started the game with a fury.”

Murray State could never make up the ground as the Tigers continued to pour it on, leading 37-15 by the break. After scoring the first six points of the second half, the Tigers' bench took over and led by more than 30 points for much of the second half.

A different set of starters had everyone on edge at first, but Brown immediately felt comfortable with the new group.

“The only thing you worry about in cases like this is chemistry and getting into the flow of the game,” Brown said. “I think our chemistry was great today. Once I saw that everybody was working together and on the same page, we were fine.”

Missouri will return to Mizzou Arena on Dec. 21 to face a one-win Arkansas-Pine Bluff team.

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