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Win streak halted by Big Ten’s ‘Eyes

Gophers senior guard China Antoine scored a game-high 19 points Thursday against the Hawkeyes but failed to score against the Buckeyes in a 7-point loss that featured seven ties in the first half alone.
Win streak halted by Big Ten’s ‘Eyes
Image by Mark Vancleave

After putting together three straight wins and gaining some momentum in the Big Ten, the womenâÄôs basketball team dropped a pair of close games to fall to 11-14 on the year, 3-9 in the Big Ten.

A last second defeat against Iowa and a tough home loss to Ohio State in a game that saw 17 ties have the Gophers again looking for ways to win tight matchups.

Head coach Pam Borton said she was still proud of her team after the loss to the Buckeyes on Sunday, but was visibly upset with the teamâÄôs defense; Minnesota has allowed 147 points over its last two games.

Against Iowa, the Gophers played well early on, heading into halftime with a 28-24 lead. Minnesota hit 5-of-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, including two to start the game from senior guard China Antoine, who finished with a game high 19 points.

Minnesota gave up its lead early in the second as Iowa got out to a quick 10-3 run. Minnesota was able to fight back and held a 55-50 advantage with 4:09 to go, but yielded again as Iowa put in six straight points in less than two minutes.

Tied at 59 with 44 seconds remaining, the HawkeyesâÄô Jaime Printy hit a three to give Iowa a 62-59 lead, and Antoine answered with a three of her own to tie the game with 23 seconds left. IowaâÄôs Kachine Alexander led her team to the victory on the next sequence however, hitting the game-winning layup with just five seconds to play. It was the second time this year the Gophers squandered a lead in the last five minutes to the Hawkeyes.

Minnesota returned to Minneapolis for a Sunday afternoon game against Ohio State. Ranked as high as No. 6 this year, the Buckeyes came into the game just 14-9 overall, 5-6 in the Big Ten.

The teams were almost deadlocked for most of the first half. While the Gophers never held a lead in the opening period, they constantly answered Ohio StateâÄôs second ranked offense in the Big Ten, and headed into the half tied up at 36.

âÄúWe looked a little nervous when we started the game,âÄù Borton said of the teamâÄôs inability to grab the early momentum. The Buckeyes got 15 points in the first half from their All-American center Jantel Lavender, who handled the Gophers inside all game.

Minnesota scored 14 points in the first four minutes after the break to jump out to a 50-46 lead. That turned out to be the high point for the Gophers, though, as Ohio State turned to Lavender and former Minneapolis high school star Taylor Hill to rally the Buckeyes down the stretch.

The pair scored 14 points each in the second period, and turned out to be too much for the Gophers to handle as Ohio State pulled away late in the game and took the win, 83-76.

âÄúWe didnâÄôt have an answer for either one,âÄù Borton said of HillâÄôs and LavenderâÄôs dominance in the second half.

Lavender ended up breaking Ohio StateâÄôs all-time scoring record against Minnesota, passing Katie SmithâÄôs total of 2,578 points three minutes into the second half.

âÄúIt means a lot,âÄù Lavender said of the record. âÄúItâÄôs a milestone in my career that IâÄôll never forget.âÄù 

Minnesota will have a chance to rebound against Purdue at home on Thursday. The Gophers beat the Boilermakers 74-47 at home last year, and will be hoping for a similar outcome after a tough week.

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