Five games in, Gophers still winless in Big Ten

Most recently, the Gophers surrendered an 11-point lead in the waning minutes of a 58-54 loss to Penn State

Five games in, Gophers still winless in Big Ten

Daily File Photo

Jesse Mandell-McClinton

After beginning the season 8-5, the Gophers womenâÄôs basketball team has started 0-5 in the Big Ten for the first time in 10 years.

Minnesota (8-10 overall, 0-5 Big Ten) has struggled on offense in conference games, reaching 60 points only once in an overtime loss to Indiana on Jan. 2. Their most recent game âÄî a 58-54 loss at Penn St. last Thursday in which they blew an 11-point second half lead âÄî was their fourth straight defeat of six points or less.

This is the worst start in the Big Ten for Minnesota since the 2000-01 season, when the Gophers also lost their first five games and finished the year with a 1-15 conference record. Since then, theyâÄôve only suffered one losing record in conference play. TheyâÄôll have to find a spark over the rest of the season to avoid another.

Even with the slow start to the conference schedule, there have been some bright spots for the Gophers in the new year. Junior guard Kiara Buford is having a solid start to her Big Ten season, hitting double digit points in four of her last five games.

A big key to turning around the GophersâÄô recent struggles will be cutting down on turnovers. In the last two games, Minnesota has turned the ball over 41 times, a trend that will make it tough to stay competitive going forward. The team will also have to be more effective on the boards, as theyâÄôve been outrebounded in all but one of their Big Ten games.

The Gophers will try to enter the win column this week with two upcoming conference games against Michigan State and Wisconsin, who are tied for first in the Big Ten.

Minnesota will host the Badgers (9-8, 4-1) on Thursday night. The Gophers will try to avenge a 47-42 loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 9, likely the low point of the season. The team scored only 14 points in the first half and turned the ball over 21 times in the tough loss.

Wisconsin has had some luck on the road recently against the Gophers, winning the last two games in Minnesota by a combined four points.

After Wisconsin, the Gophers head to East Lansing on Sunday to face a hot Michigan State team (16-2, 4-1) that just had a 14-game win streak snapped on Sunday by Ohio State.

The Gophers have certainly dug themselves into a hole to start conference play, but with three of their next four games at home, theyâÄôll try to gain momentum heading into the second half of the season.