Minnesota women drop one on the road to Purdue

Taking down the Big TenâÄôs top-two teams this month, the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball squad attempted to beat the third best with a win at Purdue on Thursday. But a balanced scoring attack by Purdue and the Gophers cold shooting of 32 percent caused Minnesota to fall 56-43 to the Boilermakers at home. âÄúI think they just came out tougher than us,âÄù senior guard Emily Fox said. âÄúThey were throwing punches and we werenâÄôt getting back and challenging them.âÄù Purdue extended its 25-24 halftime lead to 42-31 in the first eight minutes of the second half, hitting eight of its first 11 shots open a double-digit lead. âÄúI think we were lucky to only be down by one at halftime with the way we started the game,âÄù Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. âÄúIt was a matter of turnovers and not being able to put the ball in the basket that was our big issues.âÄù The Gophers and Purdue shared third place in the Big Ten with Michigan State coming into ThursdayâÄôs games with 5-2 records, but the Minnesota loss put the Gophers another game back from the Big Ten lead and into the middle of the pack. Purdue (13-6 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) displayed its deep talent on Thursday with four players in double figures: Jodi Howell (13), Danielle Campbell (12), Lakisha Freeman (12) and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (11). Campbell and Wisdom-Hylton âÄì an All-American forward âÄì also helped Purdue out-rebound the Gophers 35-20, with nine and eight rebounds respectively. âÄúThey hurt us in a lot of different ways and basically shot the ball well when we didnâÄôt,âÄù Borton said. Freeman almost picked up a double-double with nine assists on the night. A highlight for Minnesota (13-6 overall, 5-3 Big Ten) was Fox getting some shooting confidence back after struggling through a cold stretch in the Big Ten season. âÄúShe (Fox) was the only person who kind of got it going offensively, but one person is not going to fix all of our scoring issues on the offensive end,âÄù Borton said. Fox finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range and also six assists. âÄúI had never made a field goal at Purdue, so it was nice to feel like a shot was finally going in,âÄù Fox said. But the Gophers missed having another big game from junior forward Ashley Ellis-Milan, who averaged 18 points and eight rebounds in MinnesotaâÄôs past two victories to win Co-Big Ten Player of the Week. Ellis-Milan managed just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting and three rebounds, playing all 40 minutes in the loss. While the Gophers have dominated teams at home this season with a 9-1 overall record, Minnesota has been up-and-down on the road. Claiming a 4-5 road record, the Gophers picked up a huge win over a ranked Ohio State team last Thursday, but also a 17-point loss to Iowa on Jan. 11 and now a 13-point loss at Purdue. Purdue picked itself up after a tough loss to Indiana on Monday, as the Hoosiers went on a 17-1 scoring run to end the game and steal the win. The Gophers were able to beat that same Indiana team earlier this month, but the loss to Purdue showed once again why every game matters in the Big Ten. Gophers to host Northwestern on Sunday Minnesota will have a chance to get back in the win column when it hosts Northwestern on Sunday. The Wildcats sit at No. 10 in the Big Ten and have lost four in a row coming into their game with the Gophers. Although Northwestern has struggled mightily this season, Minnesota coach Pam Borton is not taking them lightly because of the depth the Big Ten has to offer this season. âÄúI think Northwestern is a very different basketball team,âÄù Borton said. âÄúThey are in every ball game and are a very well coached team. ItâÄôs going to be a tough ball game because theyâÄôre not the old Northwestern.âÄù Tip-off is at 2 p.m. in Williams Arena.