Minnesota falls in border battle to rival Wisconsin

The Gophers had not lost to the Badgers in 13 previous meetings.

Guard Sara Scalia drives towards the hoop at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 22. The Gophers were defeated by Wisconsin 72-62.

Emily Urfer

Guard Sara Scalia drives towards the hoop at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 22. The Gophers were defeated by Wisconsin 72-62.

Brendan O'Brien

Last Sunday, the Minnesota women’s basketball team went on an 11-0 run in the third quarter to separate themselves from Purdue in a 72-59 win.

It it was a different story against a different opponent for Minnesota on Wednesday night as Wisconsin went on an 8-0 run to close out the third quarter, catapulting the Badgers to a 72-62 victory and their first win against Minnesota in the last 14 matchups.  

It was Wisconsin who jumped out to an early lead on Minnesota in the first quarter. After a layup by Wisconsin’s Imani Lewis, the Badgers led 12-4, forcing head coach Lindsay Whalen to call an early timeout. 

The Gophers started to shoot better in the second quarter at 50 percent from the floor to take a 37-34 lead into the locker room at halftime. However, Minnesota hit a wall offensively in the third quarter with a shooting percentage of 17.6.

“A lot of those shots we normally knock down,” Whalen said. “This team for a quarter doesn’t usually go 3 for 17. There was just a stretch where we couldn’t buy a basket.”

Minnesota started to gain some momentum in the fourth quarter from the play of Masha Adashchyk but the Gophers could not capitalize on the shift, allowing Wisconsin to shoot 66.7 percent in the final quarter.

One of the biggest factors in the outcome was Wisconsin’s dominant inside presence. The Badgers finished with 54 points in the paint compared to the Gophers’ 30 and had six blocks on the defensive end.

Coming into Wednesday’s matchup, the Badgers were 11th in the Big Ten in three-point defense while the Gophers had the best three-point attack led by guards Gadiva Hubbard and Sara Scalia. But, Wisconsin was able to flip the script and held Minnesota to only 29.2 percent from behind the arc, with Hubbard and Scalia shooting a combined 2-13 from three.

Lewis, who was averaging 15.2 points for Wisconsin, led all players with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Hubbard and senior guard Jasmine Brunson led Minnesota with 12 points each, however, Hubbard did not score a point in the second half. Senior forward Taiye Bello finished with nine points and a team-high 13 rebounds.

The loss ends the Gophers’ long-standing winning streak over the Badgers, but this border battle loss does not bother Hubbard and the Gophers any more than another loss.

“I think any loss stings, honestly,” Hubbard said. “We don’t really pay attention to how many wins we have against [Wisconsin]. Every team in the Big Ten is good so that’s how we take it. Any loss is a bad loss, we don’t like losing.”

Minnesota is now 12-7 on the season and 2-6 in the Big Ten. The Gophers will play their next game on Monday