Gophers drop sloppy game to Big Ten bottom-dwellers

The Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball teamâÄôs longest winning streak in history over a Big Ten opponent ended on Monday at Northwestern âÄì a nine-year span. The 62-53 loss ending the Gophers 16-game streak against the Wildcats not only hurt their NCAA tournament resume, but also their chance to get a crucial first-round bye in next weekâÄôs Big Ten tournament. âÄúWe have got to come back to practice and get to work to fix some things,âÄù Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. âÄúWeâÄôve got to bounce back from this and finish strong.âÄù Northwestern (7-20 overall, 3-13 Big Ten) has been a Big Ten bottom-feeder for most of the season, with two conference wins and six total wins coming into MondayâÄôs game. The kicker for the Wildcats is all six wins this season have come at home, now seven with its latest upset over Minnesota. With MondayâÄôs upset and last ThursdayâÄôs 73-62 loss at home to Ohio State, the Gophers (18-9 overall, 10-6 Big Ten) have now lost two-straight games for the first time this conference season. With a tough road game against second-place Michigan State on Thursday and a home game against Illinois on Sunday, Minnesota may need to win both games to secure a place in the NCAA tournament. The Gophers offense struggled from the start of the game against NorthwesternâÄôs zone defense, throwing turnovers and even the occasional air-ball as Minnesota found itself down 10 at the half. Minnesota forward Ashley Ellis-Milan struggled for the second-straight game against a much taller defender. On Thursday the junior finished with just five points on 2-of-12 shooting against 6-foot-4 Ohio State center Jantel Lavender. An even taller defender was Ellis-MilanâÄôs match-up on Monday in 6-foot-5 Northwestern center Amy Jaeschke. Ellis-Milan had trouble getting her shot off against Jaeschke in the post, Gophers forward was blocked on her first shot of the game and couldnâÄôt do much better the rest of the way. Ellis-Milan scored 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Minnesota tried its taller option on Jaeschke as well in 6-foot-3 Zoe Harper, who did better but could not stop the Wildcats center from scoring 12 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Minnesota has been out-rebounded in eight of its last nine games, losing the rebounding edge 36-27 to Northwestern. âÄúWeâÄôre not getting enough rebounding out of our guards,âÄù Borton said. MinnesotaâÄôs offense also scored 43 points against Northwestern in the two teamsâÄô meeting earlier this season, while the Wildcats put up just 30. This time around Northwestern shot 50 percent from 3-point territory and 45 percent from the field en-route to more than double-the amount it scored at Minnesota. âÄúI donâÄôt think much had changed from the last time we played them,âÄù Borton said. âÄúThey made us take outside shots and we didnâÄôt hit them.âÄù