Women’s basketball seeks more consistency in closing games

Five of seven Big Ten losses have been two possession games.

Minnesota guard Kiara Buford makes a basket against Penn State Feb. 5 at Williams Arena.

Marisa Wojcik

Minnesota guard Kiara Buford makes a basket against Penn State Feb. 5 at Williams Arena.

Betsy Helfand

 

The latest in a series of bad losses for the Gophers womenâÄôs basketball team came Feb. 5 at the hands of then-No.19 Penn State.

Minnesota led by 15 at one juncture in the first half, but it saw its lead quickly evaporate in the second half.

It wasnâÄôt a singular instance. The Gophers have struggled to finish close games this season. Five of their seven Big Ten losses have been by two or fewer possessions.

Borton said she reminded her team of that fact during practice Tuesday.

âÄúWeâÄôre close, but we just have to figure out a way to pull it out at the end,âÄù Borton said.

She added, âÄúI think some of the games weâÄôve lost should have never been close games. WeâÄôve beaten ourselves with turnovers.âÄù

The Gophers average 15.9 turnovers per game, fourth-best in the Big Ten.

Reflecting on the loss to Penn State, Borton said the game was part of a âÄúdisappointing week,âÄù and that she wishes the team âÄúcould have 45 seconds back to finish the game.âÄù

Borton lauded her teamâÄôs effort and said that it executed the game plan âÄî until the end of the game. 

The team has proven it has the talent to compete with elite-level teams, but itâÄôs also suffered bad losses to the likes of Wisconsin and Illinois.

Execution down the stretch and consistency are two factors that Borton has continuously stressed to the team.

Both factors will be in play Thursday when the Gophers travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes.

Minnesota (4-7 Big Ten) has only one true road win in the conference.

âÄúI think the effort and working hard and playing hard and the energy has to be there every night,âÄù Borton said.

She also said that all those things are evident in home games but less so in road games.

âÄúWe have to be able to take the work ethic and the energy on the road, and I feel like we can play with anybody,âÄù Borton said.

Iowa (6-5) currently sits tied for sixth in the conference. The Hawkeyes are coming off three straight wins, including a win against Purdue, the Big TenâÄôs top team.

But the Hawkeyes will be without their leading scorer Thursday. On Feb. 2, Jaime Printy tore her ACL.

The Gophers are 8-24 in road matches all time against Iowa, with a 22-44 overall series record.