Gophers earn first conference road win

A fresh starting lineup helped Minnesota end its six game losing streak.

Aleutian Calabay

Apparently all the Minnesota women’s basketball team needed was a change in its starting lineup to finally find a way get back in the win column. The revised lineup finally gave the Gophers the spark they needed as they ended a six-game skid by winning at Penn State, 59-52. It was also the first conference road win Minnesota has had this season. Even though the three atypical starters, Katie Ohm, Katie Loberg and Zoe Harper combined for only eight total points, it brought the Gophers back to the way they were playing earlier in the season, by being bruising on defense and opportunistic on offense. “I’m really happy for the players that they were able to pull this one out,” Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. “We’ve been learning from our mistakes, and our players really deserve this win.” The clear difference in the game was the Gophers’ ability to get to the free-throw line. Minnesota was 28-31 from the charity strip while the Nittany Lions were held to just 3-6. Providing an extra dose of the court leadership that the Gophers had been lacking was senior Brittany McCoy who had a game-high 14 points as she was continually driving to the basket and picking up fouls. McCoy finished the game 11-12 from the free-throw line, including several late free-throws to seal the win for Minnesota. “Brittany did a great job near the end of the game, showing a lot of poise, hitting some big shots and just running our team,” Borton said.” Minnesota got off to its typical slow start to begin the game, scoring only two points in the first five minutes. The team once again found itself fighting out of a hole. The Gophers never got their shots to fall with any solid consistency, shooting just 33 percent in the first half. But they were able find ways to at least penatrate the Nittany Lions’ defense by drawing fouls. The Gophers used their solid defense to force Penn State into 10 first-half turnovers, which they turned into 13 points. The Gophers took all momentum as they finished the half on a 16-7 run to take a 28-19 lead. The second half began with Minnesota continuing to play well and building an 11-point lead early in the half. But as had often been the case during the losing streak, the Gophers began giving up points in bunches. Penn State began taking control midway through the half, going on a 27-10 run to take an eight point lead with 5:33 remaining. During that run, the Nittany Lions leading scorer, Tyra Grant, who up until that point had been held scoreless, made three consecutive 3-pointers and a layup en route to 11 straight points. However, from that point on the Gophers’ defense stifled Grant once again, as she finished the game with just those 11 points. As was often the case earlier in the season, the Minnesota offense began feeding off its defense and turned the game around, getting to the basket, and more often than not, the free-throw line. The Gophers went on a 17-2 run to finish the game and walk away with a win. “We have to keep getting a little bit better,” Borton said. “That’s what we’ve done these last few days at practice, and we’re getting back to playing Minnesota basketball.” The Gophers will not have long to enjoy their victory as their attention immediately turns to No. 7 Ohio State. Minnesota will host the Buckeyes on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at Williams Arena.