Upset at the Barn: South Dakota State topples Minnesota

Maybe South Dakota State should play its home games in Williams Arena. For the second time in the teamsâÄô last two meetings in the Barn, the Jackrabbits knocked off the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team, becoming the only non-conference team to do so since before 1996. âÄúWilliams Arena is a very difficult environment to play in,âÄù Jackrabbits coach Aaron Johnston said. âÄúBetween that and Minnesota being such a tough, well-coached team, it makes this win a big win for us.âÄù Minnesota (8-2 overall) shot just 32 percent from the field and didnâÄôt look like themselves against a scrappy South Dakota defense, losing just its second game of the season, 55-65. The Gophers didnâÄôt get off to the strong start senior Ashley Ellis-Milan said they wanted to, as Minnesota and the Jackrabbits remained neck-and-neck throughout the first quarter. Early in the half, the Gophers committed five turnovers on five consecutive trips down the floor, allowing South Dakota State (9-1) to take its biggest lead of the half, at 8-10. Junior guard Katie Ohm ended that streak with a long three-pointer âÄì one of three in the half for her âÄì and Minnesota cleaned up its act, giving up the ball just three more times in the half to climb back into the lead. Ellis-Milan played well in the low post offensively, putting up seven points in the half, while freshman forward Jackie Voigt took care of things defensively, grabbing five first-half rebounds to help the Gophers to a 33-28 lead. Despite the lead, the first half did not go the way Minnesota might have liked. But as the Gophers started off the second half with six quick points on three possessions, the Barn reacted with cheers that suggested it knew what would come next âÄì a big offensive surge from Minnesota, just as it has done so many times already this year. Instead, the Jackrabbits ended those hopes abruptly, playing an aggressive defense and frustrating a GophersâÄô offense whose tempo had been lost. âÄúWe missed a lot of open shots, we missed a lot of shots in the lane,âÄù coach Pam Borton said. âÄúWhen youâÄôre missing those types of shots against a team like this, youâÄôre in trouble.âÄù Midway through the half, South Dakota grabbed hold of the lead again and didnâÄôt let go, expanding it to double digits with four minutes left. Minnesota shot just 8-of-35 from the field in the second half, and finished the game quietly, ending the non-conference season on a sour note. Ellis-Milan finished the game with 15 points to lead Minnesota, while McCoy added 12. Senior guard Emily Fox said that the team wasnâÄôt about to let this one game get them down. âÄúThis one game doesnâÄôt show who we really are,âÄù she said. âÄúHeading into the break, itâÄôs a good time for a wakeup call.âÄù