Poor shooting costs Minnesota in loss

Sophomore guard Emily Fox led the Gophers with 15 points.

Paul Cordes

The Minnesota women’s basketball team watched all hope of a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament disappear as they fell to Michigan State on Sunday afternoon.

Neither team led by more than eight all night, but a 10-0 run by the Spartans in the second half doomed the Gophers as they lost 57-50 in East Lansing.

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It was obvious both teams wanted the important victory as Michigan State was vying for the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament and Minnesota was in the hunt for a first-round bye.

The 12 lead changes and 9 ties stressed the significance of the regular-season finale for both teams.

But when it came down to it, missed free throws and turnovers prevented the Gophers (15-14 overall, 7-9 Big Ten) from pulling off the upset.

Coach Pam Borton said she thought the team played one of the hardest fought games of the year, but couldn’t execute down the stretch.

“I thought we were in the ball game until the last minute of the game,” she said. “We cut it to three with two minutes to go but I felt like they hit open shot and we had a tough time scoring. We missed a lot of open shots.”

Those missed shots added up and made for one difficult afternoon of shooting for the Gophers as they shot 30 percent from the floor, going 18-of-60 from the field and 1-of-11 from three-point range.

Four Minnesota players combined to go 0-for-16 from the field. Two of those players were senior guard Kelly Roysland, who played just nine minutes, and freshman guard Ashley Ellis-Milan, two of the Gophers’ top scorers this season.

Borton said it was just an off-night for Minnesota.

“I think it was a cold night,” she said of Minnesota’s shooting. “We missed a lot of layups and free throws and we had a lot of good looks, but couldn’t get them to fall.”

But in the face of some dysfunctional shooting for the Gophers, freshman forward Korinne Campbell came out of the woodwork for a career night on the boards.

Campbell pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds and added eight points as well.

Campbell said she just did what she was supposed to do out there.

“I was just working really hard and I wasn’t going to let anybody out-work me,” she said. “I went out there, played my role and that is to rebound, and rebounding is crucial.”

But Campbell’s monstrous performance couldn’t eclipse Minnesota’s mistakes with the game on the line.

The Gophers’ 19 turnovers and 54.5 percent free-throw shooting in the second half kept Minnesota lagging behind as the Spartans (22-7, 13-3) continued to push forward.

Sophomore guard Emily Fox, the only Gophers player to score in double digits with 15 points, said that is becoming an all too familiar position for Minnesota.

“It seems to be a trend with us,” she said. “We seem to beat ourselves a lot and its nothing they did to us, it’s what we do to ourselves.”

Despite the disappointing end to the regular season for the Gophers, they’ll likely get another shot at the Spartans if they can get past the No. 11 seed Northwestern on the first day of the Big Ten tournament this Thursday.

Campbell said she thought her team played well Sunday but the tournament is going to be a time to show people how good Minnesota basketball actually is.

“I think we put in a really good fight but we can still play better,” she said. “Now we really have to go to the Big Ten tournament and show people what we can do.”