Women’s basketball drops two on road

Aaron Kirscht

Two more games, two more losses for the Gophers women’s basketball team. What had been a familiar refrain for Minnesota this season was forgotten, at least for a while, in the hubbub surrounding their dramatic win over Ohio State last Sunday.
But now, thanks to a pair of weekend blowouts, that headline-grabbing win looks like a mere hiccup — a stroke of luck on the way to more of the same old, same old.
In its first game after the 32-game losing streak ended last Sunday, Minnesota lost 102-51 at No. 24 Michigan State Friday. The Gophers then fell, 95-76, at No. 18 Illinois on Sunday. The losses dropped the Gophers to 3-20 overall, 1-12 in the Big Ten.
The 51-point loss to Michigan State was the Gophers’ worst since losing at home to Ohio State, 117-64, on Jan. 12, 1996.
“They are so good,” Gophers coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said of the Spartans. “I can’t even tell you how good that team is. They’re quick, they’re strong inside and they’re deep at every position. I don’t think people realize how good Michigan State really is.”
The Spartans used a series of double-digit runs to wipe out Minnesota. The Gophers led the game 4-2 early, but then Michigan State went on a 10-0 spree. The first half closed with more of the same — another 10-0 run — and the home team took a 21-point lead heading into the locker room.
Minnesota played Michigan State relatively close to begin the second half, but stumbled in a big way at the midpoint. Leading 77-47, the Spartans rattled off a 25-4 run and made an already-ugly game even more hideous.
“We just did not play,” Hill-MacDonald said. “A lot of players did not show up offensively at all.”
The most glaring performance came from guard Mindy Hansen, who went a dismal 0-11 from the field. But Hill-MacDonald was quick to defend Hansen, who also contributed five assists and three steals.
“She was still doing things for us even though her shot wasn’t falling,” Hill-MacDonald said. “That’s what you need to see out of a player who’s struggling.”
Center Angie Iverson, meanwhile, continued her streak of dominant performances, finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Iverson then had 28 points and 18 rebounds on Sunday afternoon at Illinois, making another strong bid for the Big Ten player of the week. She was upset last week by Northwestern’s Michele Ratay, much to Hill-MacDonald’s disappointment.
“There’s no doubt (Ratay) had a good week,” she said after the Illinois game, “but I don’t think anybody had a better weekend than Angie. It’s unfortunate. I think the Big Ten missed an opportunity to recognize her.”
Iverson — and the improved play of several of her teammates — wasn’t enough on Sunday. Four Gophers scored in double figures, but Minnesota couldn’t overcome a slow start.
Illinois had a 17-point lead at the break. Although the Gophers were outscored by only two points in the second half, Minnesota never really mounted a challenge. That’s quite a turnaround from the last meeting, when Illinois eked out an 89-85 overtime win.
“This is a game of two halves,” Hill MacDonald said, “and you have to put two halves together to put yourself in position for a win. We just didn’t put the first half together.”

FRIDAY’S GAME
Gophers 26 25 — 51
##24 Michigan St. 47 55 — 102

SCORING: Robinson 3-8 0-0 6, Klun 2-5 0-0 4, Iverson 9-17 4-4 22, Ellis 3-7 0-0 6, Burns 4-7 1-2 9, Hansen 0-11 1-2 1, Hass 1-8 0-0 3, Strommen 0-2 0-0 0, Seago 0-0 0-0 0, Blom 0-0 0-0 0, O’Hearn 0-0 0-0 0.
REBOUNDS: Robinson 2, Klun 3, Iverson 13, Ellis 2, Burns 1, Hansen 1, Hass 5, Seago 2, Strommen 1, Blom 0, O’Hearn 0.
A — 3,788.

SUNDAY’S GAME
Gophers 35 41 — 76
##18 Illinois 52 43 — 95

SCORING: Ellis 0-3, 0-0 0, Robinson 1-3 0-0 2, Burns 4-8 5-7 13, Klun 5-10 0-0 10, Iverson 10-22 8-9 28, Hass 4-13 4-4 12, Hansen 3-10 1-2 7, Seago 2-5 0-0 4, O’Hearn 0-0 0-0 0.
REBOUNDS: Ellis 0, Robinson 2, Burns 4, Klun 6, Iverson 18, Hass 4, Hansen 4, Seago 3, O’Hearn 0.
A — 3,235.