Offensive struggles hurt MU women's basketball

Tigers continue to hope their scoring will improve.
Missouri forward Christine Flores drives to the basket against Kansas forward Nicollette Smith in Saturday night's game at Mizzou Arena. Missouri was not able to rally a victory, losing 61-59 to rival Kansas.

The Missouri women's basketball team came up short in another conference battle Saturday, with a lack of scoring leading to a 61-59 Kansas win.

The game exemplified many of the Tigers' problems so far, including the inconsistency of senior forward Amanda Hanneman. After a strong 19-point performance at Oklahoma State on Jan. 26, Hanneman shot 3-of-13 from the field against the Jayhawks.

Missouri also continued its drought from long distance in the loss, shooting 3-of-16 from 3-point land. Aside from upsetting Baylor on Jan. 23, the Tigers have failed to shoot higher than 30 percent beyond the arc in the past five games.

Coach Cindy Stein knows Missouri's poor shooting is at the heart of its problems.

"Right now we just have to knock shots down," Stein said. "But every single one of our kids will tell you that they can hit those shots. We have to keep believing that."

Junior guard RaeShara Brown was also confident in the team's ability to make shots and hopeful for a change in offensive production.

"So deep in the season, you're just focusing on strengthening your game," Brown said. "Offensively, we just have to work on knocking our shots down. The ball isn't falling our way right now, but eventually it will."

Although the Tigers have struggled to score, Stein stressed the difference between open and guarded shots. Against a team such as Kansas, many field goal attempts were heavily defended.

"Sometimes we're getting nice open looks, other times they're hard," Stein said. "Today was a little bit harder for an open look. Any shot that we did get we definitely had to earn it."

Another place where the Tigers will look to improve is on the glass. Stein emphasized the need to pursue weak-side boards and be stronger on the box out underneath.

Senior forward Jessra Johnson knows the importance of rebounding and getting more second-chance opportunities.

"Whoever has the ball the most usually wins," Johnson said. "Getting that second opportunity, that third opportunity to get another shot up. I think we do a great job in that pursuit of getting the ball again."

Although they might be earning those opportunities, the Tigers have had trouble converting them into offense. Missouri's 15 offensive rebounds led to just 10 second-chance points in the loss to Kansas.

The Tigers didn't struggle in every category. As usual, they won the turnover battle with 10 giveaways to Kansas' 22. But their lack of offense took away from their strong control of the ball.

"They tell you to play defense and take care of the ball and you're going to have things go your way," Stein said. "We've been doing that. Now we just have to get some shots down."

Despite her team's struggles in-conference thus far, Stein said this year's group will turn it around.

"I would be really worried about this team if they didn't have the fight that they do in them," Stein said. "They are very competitive. That's why I believe in this team. With this group, I really feel like it's going to get better."

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