Gophers fall to Wisconsin in double overtime

Minnesota’s late comeback was eventually foiled in a home loss.

Gophers fall to Wisconsin in double overtime

Aleutian Calabay

There are only so many ways to lose a game, but the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team found several of them in their 76-74 double-overtime loss to Wisconsin on Thursday night. The Gophers started the game with one of their worst scoring outputs of the season, but they made a strong comeback in the second half. Yet they still squandered chances to grab momentum. After taking leads in both overtimes, the Gophers couldnâÄôt shake the seemingly inevitable outcome. Despite all that, and the fact that Minnesota is now on a five-game losing streak – the longest ever in eight seasons under head coach Pam Borton – the Gophers still showed marked improvement on Thursday night. âÄúI was proud of our players and how they battled and stayed with it,âÄù Borton said. âÄúI think from this game, we have our effort level and mojo back from four games and weâÄôre headed in the right direction.âÄù The hopes for reaching the NCAA tournament became slimmer, but the loss to Wisconsin showed a Minnesota team that can still play high-quality basketball. The GophersâÄô got off to what has become their usual rough start, as they didnâÄôt score until sophomore guard Kiara BufordâÄôs layup nearly four minutes into the game. Things didnâÄôt improve much throughout the first half. WisconsinâÄôs defense continually forced the Gophers to settle for tough outside shots. That worked in WisconsinâÄôs favor, as the Gophers shot only 18 percent from the field in the first half. Their 8-for-8 performance from the free-throw line kept the halftime deficit to just 27-19. Though theyâÄôve become notorious for slow second-half starts, the Gophers came out firing after the break. A Katie Ohm 3-pointer and Jackie Voigt jumper brought Minnesota to within 38-33 with 12:30 remaining. But the Badgers answered any Gophers basket with one of their own and maintained a nine-point lead with less than three minutes to play. Minnesota rallied with 7-0 run that included five straight points by Voigt and a pair of free throws by senior guard Brittany McCoy . âÄúI think we just attacked the basket,âÄù Borton said about the Gophers second-half comeback. âÄúOur guards did a great job getting to the rim, we got to the free throw line a little more, and I just thought we were more aggressive in pushing the tempo.âÄù Minnesota fouled WisconsinâÄôs Rae Lin DâÄôAlie with 11 seconds to go, and she hit one of two free-throws. The GophersâÄô China Antoine then streaked down the court with the ball and hit a last-second three to extend the drama into overtime. Senior center Zoe Harper hit a free throw early in the extra period to give Minnesota its first lead at 59-58. There was little scoring in the first overtime until DâÄôAlie hit a 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 63-62 lead with 28 seconds remaining. McCoy answered by making a jumper and making the subsequent free throw to give Minnesota a two-point lead. Once again Wisconsin responded, tying it on an easy layup by Anya Covington to send the game into double overtime. Wisconsin built a 73-69 lead in the second overtime, but the Minnesota senior Ashley Ellis-Milan scored five consecutive points to give Minnesota a one-point advantage. Badgers guard Alyssa Karel hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 74 with 22 seconds to play. McCoy took the ball down court to set up the Gophers offense, but her pass in the paint was picked off and brought back for the go-ahead layup by Karel. McCoy heaved a last-second half court shot that just bounced hard off the backboard to give Minnesota yet another heartbreaking loss. âÄúIt was definitely nice have the effort back,âÄù McCoy said. âÄúI had a good time out there, and itâÄôs just a lot more fun when weâÄôre working hard but weâÄôre just staying positive and taking it one day at a time.âÄù The Gophers had four players finish in double figures. Buford led with 17 points, McCoy finished with 16, Voigt had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Antoine added 10 points. DâÄôAlie had a game-high 20 points for Wisconsin. Karel, a St. Paul native, scored 18 points for the Badgers. In their next game, the Gophers will travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on Sunday at 12 p.m.