Buckeyes outlast struggling Gophers at the Barn

No. 7 Ohio State won the Big Ten title for a record sixth-straight season.

Minnesota sophomore guard Kiara Buford drives against Ohio State freshman guard Tayler Hill on Sunday at Williams Arena.  The Gopher’s lost against the Big Ten’s leading team 59-64.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Minnesota sophomore guard Kiara Buford drives against Ohio State freshman guard Tayler Hill on Sunday at Williams Arena. The Gopher’s lost against the Big Ten’s leading team 59-64.

Aleutian Calabay

Progress continues to provide hope for the Gophers even when they canâÄôt win. After ending a six-game losing streak at Penn State on Thursday, the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team once again turned in a solid performance Sunday against No. 7 Ohio State at Williams Arena. Minnesota gave the Buckeyes everything they could handle, but ultimately came up short, losing 64-59 as Ohio State clinched the Big Ten for a record-breaking sixth-straight season. The Gophers matched the Buckeyes in nearly every statistical category. Minnesota shot 37.7 percent from the field and had 41 rebounds, while Ohio State finished shooting 35.3 percent and grabbing 35 boards. What separated the two teams was Ohio StateâÄôs ability to get the free-throw line. The Buckeyes hit 26 of 30 from the charity stripe, compared to just nine of 11 for the Gophers. âÄúWhen you play a team thatâÄôs in the top 10 you have to bring your A game, and I thought we brought our A-minus game tonight,âÄù Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. While slow starts had plagued the Gophers for most of the season, Minnesota came out against Ohio State scoring in bunches, taking a 13-6 lead less than six minutes into the game. Minnesota held off any large scoring burst by the Buckeyes throughout the half, while constantly finding ways to hit open shots. The Gophers finished the half shooting 44.8 percent and held a 32-27 lead at the break. Ohio State slowly fought back in the second half, tying the game at 39 on a pair of Samantha Prahalis free throws. The lead bounced back and forth until at a 45-45 tie when the Buckeyes went on an 8-0 run with five minutes remaining that crippled MinnesotaâÄôs chances at victory. The Gophers continued to fight, but Ohio StateâÄôs solid free-throw shooting eventually sealed the game for the Buckeyes. Leading the way for Ohio State was Prahalis , who had a game-high 19 points, despite shooting just 3 of 16 from the field. However, Prahalis continually found her way into the interior of the GophersâÄô defense, often drawing fouls. Her 12 free throws (12 for 12) were more than the entire Minnesota team. Also playing well for the Buckeyes was freshman guard Tayler Hill. The all-time leading scorer in Minnesota high school basketball history had 13 points in her first game back in Minneapolis. Minnesota was led by sophomore forward Jackie Voigt, who had a team-high 15 points and six rebounds. The Gophers also had a solid performance from senior center Zoe Harper , who came off the bench to score 10 points and grab five rebounds. âÄúI definitely think we took a step in the right direction,âÄù Voigt said. âÄúI think weâÄôre back to playing Minnesota basketball, and I think weâÄôre going to keep doing that the rest of the season.âÄù The Gophers begin a two-game road trip Thursday as they head to Iowa for the seasonâÄôs only showdown with the Hawkeyes.