Minnesota pulls off senior night upset

The Gophers beat No. 5 Ohio State at home with a late basket in overtime.

Sophomore guard Carlie Wagner jumps into the arms of teammate Shayne Mullaney after her game-winning shot in overtime against Ohio State in Williams Arena on Wednesday night.

Kathryn Chlystek

Sophomore guard Carlie Wagner jumps into the arms of teammate Shayne Mullaney after her game-winning shot in overtime against Ohio State in Williams Arena on Wednesday night.

Kaitlin Merkel

Williams Arena erupted as time seemed to run out on the Gophers upset victory over No. 5 Ohio State.
 
 
Then the referees halted the celebration. Minnesota was up 78-76 with a put-back at the buzzer, but .5 seconds were added to the clock. Ohio State promptly inbounded and scored to send the game to overtime, and the same scene repeated itself.
 
 
Sophomore guard Carlie Wagner hit a jumper to give the Gophers the lead with time expiring in the extra period. And this time, .8 seconds was put back on the clock. The near buzzer-beater helped the Gophers upset the Buckeyes 90-88 in the last home game Wednesday night. 
 
 
“Wow, I’m still catching my breath,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. “Ohio State’s a heck of a team, obviously. They’re top-five in the nation.”
 
 
It was the program’s first victory against a top-five ranked team in 11 years and also capped off senior night for the Gophers trio of senior guards: Rachel Banham, Shayne Mullaney and Mikayla Bailey.
 
 
“I’m really happy for all of us seniors to go out like that. It’s always fun to beat Ohio State,” Banham said. “It’s sad I’m not going to be playing here anymore, but I’m glad that we went out that way.”
 
 
The upset also added a big boost to the Gophers’ resume with the NCAA tournament approaching. The team was ranked 79th in the country in the ratings percentage index — which factors in a team’s record and strength of schedule — heading into the game but is certain to move up after the victory.
 
 
“As far as the NCAA tournament goes, you just win,” Stollings said. “You win, and you let it take care of itself. This certainly is huge in terms of resume building.”
 
 
Wagner’s game-winning shot in overtime came after her late turnover in the fourth quarter allowed Ohio State to stay in the game. It also came with Banham on the bench, as the redshirt senior fouled out with less than a minute to play.
 
 
“I feel like I have a responsibility to step up when Rachel’s out, especially in a tight situation like that,” Wagner said. “I just knew I had to be aggressive and get to the basket. I got angry, and I wanted to get in there. And I took the shot, and it just happened to fall.”
 
 
The Gophers struggled offensively in the first half and trailed by as many as 11 points in the game. Minnesota shot just 25.5 percent before halftime but finished shooting 41.3 percent.
 
 
Banham scored a game-high 35 points in the game, while Wagner added 26.
 
 
Minnesota’s defense held the Buckeyes to 36 percent shooting, and the Gophers outrebounded Ohio State 53-52.
 
 
“We had 24 offensive rebounds for the game … and then we outrebounded them. That was huge,” Stollings said. “I thought that the shooting wasn’t as efficient as it typically is, but you’re going to have a few nights like that.”