Gophers women beat Hoosiers, pull out of last in the Big Ten

The Gophers have won three straight after dropping their first seven conference games.

Jesse Mandell-McClinton

The womenâÄôs basketball team continues to stay hot in the Big Ten, mounting a late comeback against a struggling Indiana team for its first road win Thursday, 65-59. After losing their first seven conference games, the Gophers (11-12, 3-7 Big Ten) have won three in a row and are out of last place for the first time this year.

Kiara Buford scored 16 to reach double-digits for the fourth consecutive game, and Katie Loberg added 14 points to go with three steals. Both players went 6-for-12 from the field in a solid shooting night for Minnesota.

The Gophers enjoyed their best night from the field in Big Ten play this year, hitting better than half their shots in both periods and finishing the game at a lofty 52 percent. They also went 11-for-12 from the charity stripe and drained half their threes, including 4-for-7 from downtown between Buford and senior guard China Antoine.

Although the Gophers dominated all of the major statistical categories aside from steals, they needed a strong second half to come out with the win. Indiana went into halftime with a 3-point lead and was able to push it to 9 with only 7:52 to play.

Minnesota was able to dig deep and finish the game on a 19-4 run, pushing the Hoosiers to 2-8 in the Big Ten, a record that ties them with Illinois for last place.

The second half resembled the flow of the first game between the teams, when Indiana overcame a 10-point deficit in the last six minutes to force overtime and eventually take the game 80-79. This time the Gophers were able to catch the late momentum, closing out another solid second half with a big win.

Indiana dropped its eighth straight game in the Big Ten, the worst losing streak in the conference this year. Senior guard Jori Davis, averaging 18 points a game this year, scored an inefficient 22 points for the Hoosiers, going just 7-for-20 from the field, including 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Senior Whitney Lindsay went 4-for-4 from three-point range and ended with 14 points.

Buford faced off again against her high school teammate Georgie Jones, who started at forward for the Hoosiers. The two played together at Central Senior High School in St. Paul, winning Minnesota state championships in their junior and senior years.

The Gophers are now ninth in the Big Ten with six games left to play before the Big Ten tournament. They have come from behind, as well as maintained leads in the second half during their winning streak, two factors they struggled with earlier in the year.

Minnesota will head down to Iowa on Thursday to face the No. 22 Hawkeyes. The Gophers blew a double-digit second half lead in their Jan. 5 matchup and lost 63-57. However, this is a different Minnesota team thatâÄôs playing with confidence and closing out close games, so thereâÄôs reason to believe that the Gophers will be able to capture their first win against a ranked team this year in Iowa City, Iowa.