Gophers suffer blowout loss to Michigan

Jasmine Powell scored 20 points, but Minnesota failed to rally.

Gopher forward Taiye Bello squares up for a basket in William's Arena on Sunday, Feb. 10. The Gophers suffered a defeat against Michigan 52-77.

Liam Armstrong

Gopher forward Taiye Bello squares up for a basket in William’s Arena on Sunday, Feb. 10. The Gophers suffered a defeat against Michigan 52-77.

Brendan O'Brien

On a night where they could not find an offensive rhythm, the Minnesota women’s basketball team fell 77-52 to Michigan in a lopsided game Monday night.

Coming into the game, both Minnesota and Michigan mirrored each other in various ways. Both teams had won 15 games and averaged about 72 points per game throughout the season. Michigan was holding opponents to an average of 63.1 points per game while Minnesota was holding opponents to 64.1 points per game.

But Michigan utilized their size and length to their advantage, outscoring Minnesota 44-18 in the paint as well as limiting the Gophers to 35.6 percent shooting from the floor. The number of points the Gophers allowed in the paint Monday night was the second-highest of the season only to the 54 points they allowed to Wisconsin in January.

Michigan’s Naz Hillmon and Amy Dilk sank Minnesota’s chances of extending their winning streak, as the Gophers could not slow the pair down throughout the game. Dilk scored a game-high 22 points and added eight assists and four rebounds while Hillmon finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Before Monday night’s game, Hillmon and Dilk were averaging 17.4 and 10.7 points respectively.

Head coach Lindsay Whalen said the team knew limiting turnovers would be important if the Gophers were to come away with a win. Minnesota only turned the ball over 13 times but Michigan made the most of those opportunities and scored 24 points off turnovers.

“They did a great job converting. We knew transition defense was one of the keys and for us it felt like some of our turnovers came in bunches and at tough times and they’re a really good team,” she said. “So if you make a mistake, do have a turnover they’re going to convert almost every time.”

Freshman guard Jasmine Powell once again led the team in scoring with 20 points but her effort could not lift the Gophers. Powell scored 17 points in the first half but was limited in the second, which effectively slowed Minnesota down. Powell added three rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Senior Taiye Bello finished with 13 points with five rebounds and three blocks. Despite suffering what appeared to be an ankle injury in Thursday’s win against Wisconsin, freshman guard Sara Scalia played Monday and finished with eight points and three rebounds. Redshirt junior Gadiva Hubbard struggled to find her shot and went 0-6 from the floor.

The Gophers again played without senior guard Jasmine Brunson. Brunson left after Minnesota’s double-overtime win against Rutgers due to an injury.

With their three-game winning streak snapped, the Gophers now fall to 15-9 and 5-8 in the Big Ten. In order to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive, it will be important for the Gophers to leave this game in the past and focus on the next one, Powell said.

The Gophers have a quick turnaround to their next game as they play at Ohio State on Thursday, Feb. 13.