Short-handed Gophers lose

Senior guard Kelly Roysland sat out the game with a broken collarbone.

Paul Cordes

>MADISON, Wis. – Any momentum the Minnesota women’s basketball team might have had heading into Wisconsin was abruptly interrupted Sunday afternoon.

The Badgers took advantage of the short-handed Gophers and dealt Minnesota a 70-57 loss in front of 15,429 people at the Kohl Center.

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when: 7 p.m. Thursday
where: Williams Arena

Albeit both teams were on the floor for the same amount of time, Wisconsin played a full game and the Gophers did not.

Minnesota’s fate was already decided after nearly eight minutes without recording a point to close out the first half.

After tying the game at 19, with 7:43 left to go in the period, Minnesota allowed Wisconsin to go on a 17-0 run and the Gophers (13-9 overall, 5-4 Big Ten) never recovered.

Despite shooting just 20.7 percent from the field in the first half, coach Pam Borton said the first-half deficit was more about a lack of defense and rebounding.

“I think on the offensive end is the biggest area of adjustment for us,” she said. “We’re asking people to step up and do some different things offensively, but that doesn’t change what we’re doing on the defensive end or on the boards.”

During the 17-0 run, Minnesota was out-rebounded 6-4, which included two offensive boards leading to four points for the Badgers. The Gophers’ six turnovers also led to seven points for Wisconsin, which had just seven turnovers all game, tying the school record for fewest turnovers.

“We beat a team who forced us into 25 turnovers the first time we played them,” Badgers coach Lisa Stone said. “But, being short-handed, I felt their kids certainly played courageous.”

Playing short-handed might be an understatement with senior guard Kelly Roysland on the sidelines for the next two to four weeks with a broken collarbone.

Roysland is leading the team in scoring this season, averaging 14.6 points per game and is stuck three points shy of 1,000 points in her career.

Although the loss of her only senior and leading scorer is an obvious obstacle, Borton said her team isn’t into making excuses.

“We’re not using any excuses for us not showing up ready to play today, even with (Roysland) not on the floor,” she said. “Our expectations have not lowered since we’ve lost Kelly Roysland in the starting lineup.”

But the young team had a tough time filling the big shoes of Roysland.

Freshman forward Katie Ohm replaced Roysland in the starting lineup, but her three points fell short of the 20 Roysland had against the Badgers earlier this season.

Ohm wasn’t alone in her cold shooting as the Gophers shot just 33.9 percent from the field as a team.

And even when Minnesota did manage to string together a couple of baskets, Wisconsin (16-6, 5-4) quickly slammed the door on any possible comeback.

The Gophers managed just one run of more than four points in the second half, a 7-0 spurt late in the game.

But the Badgers once again put the kybosh on the late Minnesota surge by going 5-of-6 from the free-throw line to end the game.

Gophers sophomore guard Emily Fox, who led the team with 20 points, said it was frustrating not to be able to get anything going.

“I felt like every time we tried to make a run, they’d come back and score or get an offensive rebound,” she said. “It was a deflator for us and we just couldn’t get anything going.”