Slow first leads to blowout in East Lansing

by Emily Wickstrom

Minnesota’s women’s basketball team had held its past two opponents to less than 50 points.

On Thursday, the Gophers gave up more than that in the first half.

No. 11 Minnesota (17-5, 9-2 Big Ten) was unable to recover from a 30-point halftime deficit in a 84-61 blowout loss to Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., at the Breslin Center in front of an announced crowd of 6,184.

The No. 16 Spartans (18-7, 8-4 Big Ten) made their first eight field-goal attempts to take an early 27-7 lead as the Gophers struggled offensively.

“It didn’t even take five minutes (to get out of the game),” Gophers coach Pam Borton said. “It was less than a minute and a half and it was 10-0. We didn’t give ourselves a chance from the very beginning.

“The rest of the first half it was downhill from there.”

Michigan State shot a scorching 61 percent from the field in the first half and made eight three-pointers to take a 57-27 lead into halftime.

“At the beginning of the game they came out fired on all cylinders,” senior guard Shannon Schonrock said. “It really took us for a spin and we had a hard time recovering.”

The Gophers tried to reverse the trend in the second half, when they started on a 7-0 run.

But the Spartans quickly scored the next 10 points to erase any hope of a Minnesota comeback.

The Gophers, who have been strong on the boards, were outrebounded 44-26 and committed 24 turnovers.

“In order to beat a good team you need to get on the boards and take care of the ball,” Schonrock said.

The loss not only snapped the Gophers’ seven-game win-streak and gave them their first Big Ten road loss, but it also hurt their chances for the conference title.

Ohio State and Purdue have one conference loss apiece, but Minnesota still is able to control its own destiny with back-to-back games against the Buckeyes and the Boilermakers.

Minnesota plays Sunday at Purdue and Thursday will host Ohio State.

“We know we’re going to keep things in perspective,” Schonrock said. “It just makes Sunday that much bigger knowing it’s a must-win.”

Added Borton: “We’ve got to let this hurt a little bit tonight. But after that the focus has got to be on Purdue.”

Perhaps the only bright note for Minnesota was that Schonrock hit four three-pointers to surpass Lindsay Lieser for the Gophers career record in three-point field goals made. Schonrock now has 217 threes to Lieser’s 216.

“I guess it’s nice to get it out of the way,” Schonrock said. “I think it would feel a lot better and it would mean a lot more if we would have won. It was a disappointing loss ” it’s hard to think about the record.”

Schonrock led the Gophers with 12 points, while Jamie Broback and Lauren Lacey each added 11.

Three Michigan State starters were in double figures, led by Aisha Jefferson, who had a game-high 18.