Suddenly skidding team looks to stop slide

Emily Wickstrom

Minnesotaís womenís basketball team didnít have much time to get over losing back-to-back road games at Michigan State and Purdue last week.

Thatís because the 17th-ranked Gophers (17-6, 9-3 Big Ten) have perhaps an even tougher challenge today when they face No. 6 Ohio State at 7 p.m. in Williams Arena.

The Buckeyes (21-2, 11-1 Big Ten) are tied for first place and are the top-ranked team in the Big Ten.

They also boast the reigning conference player of the year, junior 6-foot, 5-inch center Jessica Davenport, who leads the Big Ten in scoring (19.4), rebounding (8.9), field goal percentage (.644) and blocked shots (2.83).

When Minnesota faced Ohio State twice last year, Davenport torched the Gophers.

And without Janel McCarville filling the paint this season, guarding Davenport will have to be a team effort.

ìOur main goal probably is going to be to just get her off the paint,” sophomore forward Natasha Williams said. ìHopefully my length of arms can at least get to the point where I can kind of disrupt her shot and I know that Liz (Podominick) does a good job of pushing people out … weíre going to have a lot of help.”

Although a win Thursday seems almost necessary to avoid a three-game slump and possibly plummeting from first to fourth in the Big Ten, Gophers coach Pam Borton said she wanted to concentrate on getting her team refocused instead of worrying too much about the opposition.

ìItís not the end of the world (losing two games),” Borton said. ìItís one week of basketball. You just have to get back to doing the things you believe in and work hard in practice.

ìWeíve got to get back to playing Minnesota basketball.”

Junior forward Liz Podominick said last weekís games were perhaps a wake-up call for a Gophers team that got off to a 9-1 start in the Big Ten.

ìI think these two losses will help us,” Podominick said. ìIt kind of made us realize that weíre not where we thought we were.”