Near the midpoint of the second half of Sunday’s game, Gophers women’s basketball coach Linda Hill-MacDonald called a timeout with her team trailing Indiana by 26. Then she stepped away from the huddle for a moment, took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.
The gesture was fitting. This loss, like so many before, was painful and frustrating. In the Gophers’ final home game of the season, Indiana opened up an early 22-6 lead and never let up, cruising to an easy 103-75 win at the Sports Pavilion.
“When a team comes into our gym and scores 100 points, that’s embarrassing,” center Angie Iverson said. “I’m embarrassed, and I feel bad for the fans. I had people from my hometown come here and watch us play like that.”
Indeed, the 2,000-plus fans in attendance were treated to the Gophers’ latest in a long line of poorly-played games. Minnesota gave up 34 turnovers — including a game-high nine by Mindy Hansen — and never truly challenged Indiana (14-11, 7-8 in the Big Ten) at either end of the floor.
“That’s sad,” Iverson said. “That’s horrible. We probably led the country in turnovers today.”
It was a total reversal of the game played Jan. 3 at Indiana, when Minnesota fell behind but made it a game in the second half. This time, Minnesota stumbled and sputtered through 40 ugly minutes. The 28-point margin of defeat was the Gophers’ largest of the season at home.
Indiana freshman Rachael Honegger, who scored a career-high 21 points and had six of the Hoosiers’ 17 steals, said her team’s lackluster performance in the first meeting was motivational.
“Anytime someone plays you that close you just want to come out and dominate in the second game,” she said. “We came back, regrouped and got the job done.”
Credit those steals — the second-most for a Gophers opponent this season — to Indiana’s full court defense. The press was in place for most of the game, even as the lead approached 40 points.
“That had nothing to do with our comfort level,” said Indiana coach Jim Izard. “It’s just our philosophy of the game.”
But Izard said the biggest difference between the two games was the Hoosiers’ nearly flawless execution against the Minnesota zone, especially in the first half.
Hill-MacDonald felt differently. She said the Gophers, not Indiana, put a different team on the floor on Sunday.
“It’s easy to get a steal when the offensive player is passing the ball into your hands,” she said. “We made them look like All-American defensive players today.
“I don’t know what happened. We spent the whole week preparing for this game. I have no explanation.”
As usual, the bright spot was Iverson, who scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and surpassed her season average in both categories. And Hansen, who went a horrific 3-for-20 from the field last weekend, quietly put up some of her best offensive numbers of the season: 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Nevertheless, the Gophers dropped to 3-21, 1-13 in the Big Ten.
“We would have liked to go out there and show (the fans) how we can play,” Iverson said, “and give them something to look forward to next year. But we didn’t do that.”
GAME SUMMARYIndiana 49 54 — 103Gophers 27 48 — 75SCORING: Hansen 8-12 4-5 23, Klun 5-10 1-2 11, Iverson 6-11 6-6 18, Ellis 1-2 0-0 2, Burns 4-8 2-3 10, Robinson 1-2 2-2 4, Seago 1-1 0-0 2, Hass 2-8 0-0 5, Blom 0-2 0-0 0, Nonginthirath 0-0 0-0 0, O’Hearn 0-0 0-0 0, Strommen 0-0 0-1, 0.
REBOUNDS: Hansen 3, Klun 2, Iverson 15, Ellis 3, Burns 3, Robinson 1, Seago 1, Hass 2, Blom 2, Nonginthirath 1, O’Hearn 0, Strommen 1.
A — 2,045.