Poor shooting leads to Gophers loss

Redshirt freshman center Ashley Ellis-Milan was just 1-of-9 from the field.

by Paul Cordes

;AMES, Iowa – After upsetting No. 25 Nebraska last Tuesday, the Minnesota women’s basketball team headed to Iowa State with some momentum, but Iowa State slammed the door on that in a hurry.

With the Gophers top two guards held in check, their centers in foul trouble and poor shooting by everyone, Minnesota went down 67-57 in front of 11,559 fans at the Hilton Coliseum on Saturday.

Coach Pam Borton said she was hoping her team would play better than it did coming into Saturday’s game.

“We didn’t play with a sense of urgency tonight like we did at Nebraska,” she said. “Our lack of offensive execution really hurt us. I thought we took some bad shots and had too many empty possessions especially when we were only down by six.”

The Gophers shot just 30 percent from the floor in the first half and missed six of seven from three-point range.

The Cyclones’ defense forced Minnesota to take a lot of rushed shots and the Gophers rarely had an open look.

Minnesota (8-3 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) also had some troubles in the paint early. Redshirt freshman center Ashley Ellis-Milan, who came into the game averaging 10.1 points per game, picked up two fouls in the first two minutes, which kept her on the bench for a good part of the game. Even when she did get in, she was unable to catch fire and shot 1-of-9 from the field.

“Its fun to be able to draw those fouls,” Iowa State redshirt freshman center Rachel Pierson said. “That’s something that won’t usually show up in the stats but after a game like this you see how important something like that is.”

But luckily for Minnesota, the Cyclones had their own first half troubles.

Iowa State (7-1, 0-0 Big 12) took 15 three-pointers in the first half and hit just three of them, but still managed to go to the locker room up 31-28.

“We got discouraged early on,” Gophers freshman guard Brittany McCoy said. “We weren’t able to contain them and we didn’t answer with some big shots.”

The problems continued into the second half for Minnesota.

The Cyclones dominated the glass in the second half to become just the second team to out-rebound the Gophers this season, with the 49-44 edge.

After a 9-0 Iowa State run, Minnesota found itself down by 15 with 5:37 left. But the Gophers were able to battle back and pull within six points with 1:28 to play.

But three missed shots and just one rebound later, Minnesota found itself on the losing end of things.

“They beat us at our own game with rebounds.” Borton said. “When we closed to six, we couldn’t put the ball in the basket. They had four people under the basket and they did a great job just giving us one shot (per possession).”

The Gophers won’t see an opponent for two weeks now as the team prepares for finals, but Minnesota certainly won’t be using the next 13 days as a break.

Ellis-Milan said the days leading up until the Gophers’ game versus North Dakota are going to be crucial and will say a lot about the team.

“These next 13 days of practice will be big for us,” she said. “We need to work really hard on every aspect of our game over the break, and I think we’ll be fine.”