Five-minute spurts bring Gophers down in opener

Jim Schortemeyer

The good news for the Gophers women’s basketball team Friday was that they played thirty minutes of hard-nosed basketball. Unfortunately, the first five minutes of each half put the Gophers in a hole they were unable to recover from, as they lost to Indiana 84-75.
The new year started out like the old one for the Gophers, who lost to Big Ten rivals Iowa and Michigan on the road before Friday’s conference home opener. In this game, however, the Gophers showed signs of having a pulse.
Indiana jumped to an early 15-6 lead, but the Gophers, aided by 11 Indiana turnovers, closed the gap to 36-34 at halftime. Going into the half, Minnesota players were upbeat and upset-minded. Then Indiana opened the second half with a 29-11 run, including a 15-0 spurt.
The Hoosiers made few changes during the break, but they came out playing hard and missed only two shots during the first nine minutes of the half.
“We got relaxed, and we let up, and the first five minutes killed us,” said Gopher freshman Theresa LeCuyer.
Indiana continued to look good beyond the start of the half as well, shooting 72.2 percent from the field, and beat the Gophers in every statistical category except steals.
“In the second half, the team played extremely well both offensively and defensively,” Indiana coach Jim Izard said.
Despite the second-half run from Indiana, the Gophers managed to claw back into the game. With 5:54 remaining, Sarah Schieber hit a three-pointer to cut the Indiana lead to nine points. But the Gophers would get no closer than eight points for the remainder of the game.
Minnesota got a jolt early in the game when Angie Iverson, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, drew two quick fouls and sat for the remaining 18:42 of the first half. She played a total of 13 minutes, and scored nine points — leaving her all-time point total at 999.
Interestingly, the Gophers responded well to the loss of their captain. LeCuyer tied a career-high for points with 10, eight of which came in the first half.
“We played very well without Angie Iverson,” LeCuyer said. “It’s a great boost for us to know we don’t have to depend on just one person.”
The Gophers tried to go back to Iverson to start the second half — a move coach Cheryl Littlejohn later regretted.
“If I made any mistake, we probably should have started the second half with the same five people we ended the first half,” Littlejohn said. “Angie had been sitting on the bench for the whole first half, and I started back with her in the second half.”
Iverson looked out of place at times and was often triple-teamed on offense. On the other end of the court, Indiana often went at the 6-foot tall Iverson with 6-foot-5 Quancy Barnes and 6-foot-2 Cindy Kerns, leading to Iverson’s foul trouble. She fouled out with five minutes remaining in the game. Kerns had a career high 16 points, while Barnes chipped in with 13.
Help came from the outside for Indiana as well, as junior guard Kristi Green poured in 26 points, including four three-pointers. Green also was perfect from the foul stripe, going 8-8 en route to a career high.
The Gophers had a more balanced attack, with six players scoring 9 points or more. Kiauna Burns was aggressive on both offense and defense, scoring the team highs of 11 points, nine assists and three steals. Mindy Hansen scored seven of her nine points in a two-minute stretch in the first half.
This was one of the Gophers’ best games of the season for shooting. They shot 45 percent for the game and hit 8-17 shots from behind the three-point arc — a marked improvement, considering they shot below 40 percent in eight of their 12 previous games.
On paper, it appeared as though the Gophers were in for another shellacking. Indiana is ranked No. 17 in the RPI, the poll which weighs schedule strength with wins and losses.
The Gophers gave Indiana a run, but the Hoosiers’ height and talent eventually snubbed a tough performance from the Gophers.
“They played with a lot of heart, and a lot of desire.” Izard said.
The Gophers record now drops to 3-10 overall, and 0-3 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers are 10-4, 2-0 in conference play, and are on a six-game winning streak.

FRIDAY’S SUMMARY
Indiana 36 48 — 84
Minnesota 34 41 — 75
INDIANA (10-4)
Honneger 4-8 1-2 11, Kerns 5-5 6-6 16, Barnes 4-8 5-8 13, Morgan 1-3 1-2 4, Green 7-11 8-8 26, Thrush 2-6 0-0 5, Maines 2-3 5-8 9, Malone 0-0 0-0 0, Yuska 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 25-44 26-34 84.
MINNESOTA (3-10)
Hansen 4-12 0-2 9, Klun 3-7 0-0 6, Iverson 3-5 3-3 9, Burns 4-13 1-2 11, Young 1-3 0-0 3, Pickens 2-2 0-0 4, Hass 2-4 5-6 10, LeCuyer 4-9 2-4 10, Schieber 3-4 0-0 9, Sonja Robinson 2-3 0-0 4, Totals 28-62 11-17 75.
3-Point goals — Indiana 8-17 (Green 4-7, Honneger 2-5, Morgan 1-2, Thrush 1-3). Minnesota (Schieber 3-4, Burns 2-5, Young 1-1, Hansen 1-2, Hass 1-2, LeCuyer 0-3). Fouled Out — Iverson, Young, Barnes. Rebounds — Indiana 32 (Barnes 9). Minnesota 27 (Burns 4). Assists — Indiana 21 (Thrush 9). Minnesota 18 (Burns 9). Total fouls — Indiana 15, Minnesota 23. A–1,491.