Women welcome Michigan State for Sunday matinee

The inconsistent Gophers will try to remain a force at home.

Aleutian Calabay

If the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team hopes to stay competitive in the Big Ten, they will have to be virtually unbeatable at home. The Gophers (11-7 overall, 4-3 Big Ten ) have held up to that standard so far this season, losing only once, to Iowa State, at home. Minnesota hopes to continue that streak when Michigan State visits at 2 p.m. Sunday at Williams Arena. Michigan State was thought early in the season to be the second best team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State, but a three-game losing streak has dropped the Spartans from the polls after being ranked No. 16 just three weeks ago . âÄúThey play like theyâÄôre a top-10 team sometimes, and sometimes they play very mediocre,âÄù Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. âÄúTwo different teams could show up, and hopefully the top-10 team doesnâÄôt show up on Sunday.âÄù Michigan State has had few problems scoring points, coming into SundayâÄôs matchup third in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 69.3 points per game. But as good as the Spartans have been at scoring points, they have been almost equally bad at defense, currently ninth in the conference in points allowed, giving up 62.3 points per game. The Gophers, on the other hand, are almost the exact opposite. Minnesota is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring with 67.8 points per game, but third in the conference in defense, allowing just 58.2 points per game. Michigan State will look to create mismatches down low with 6-foot-9-inch senior center Allyssa DeHaan , who leads the team averaging 12.3 points per game . It will be up to 6-foot-2-inch senior Ashley Ellis-Milan and 6-foot-3-inch senior Zoe Harper to try to keep DeHaan from getting to the basket with ease. âÄúI just have to be tough both mentally and physically,âÄù Ellis-Milan said. âÄúShe [DeHaan] is a tough post player to go up against because she can do a lot of things, so I just have to be tough and work hard.âÄù A biggest question mark for the Gophers remains the status of junior guard China Antoine , who, since taking a starting role last month, has become a key component of MinnesotaâÄôs game plan. Antoine injured her knee during last SaturdayâÄôs practice and was held out of SundayâÄôs loss to Northwestern. She had her knee successfully scoped on Monday but was still unable to practice. Borton remains optimistic that the injury will not keep Antoine off the court for long. Her status for SundayâÄôs game remains unknown as the team is taking her injury day by day. If Antoine is out against Michigan State, it will be up to freshman Leah Cotton , who started last SundayâÄôs game in AntoineâÄôs absence, to be a force for Minnesota. Cotton has averaged 4.6 points per game so far this season and has come up big several times this season as a spark off the bench.