Fox leads Gophers to exciting win at Penn State

Minnesota’s senior captain led the team with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting

Minnesota guard Emily FoxâÄôs offensive struggles have been well documented throughout the Big Ten season. But the seniorâÄôs attitude and hard-work hasnâÄôt changed, and it finally paid off with her game-high 22 points in leading the Gophers to a thrilling 63-61 win over Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Penn. While FoxâÄôs scoring carried Minnesota (16-6 overall, 8-3 Big Ten) for most of the game, it was her defense that mattered most in the final minute of the game. With the Gophers up 60-59 and just over a minute remaining, Fox quickly poked the ball out of a Penn State (8-13 overall, 3-8 Big Ten) playersâÄô hands and raced down the court for a layup attempt. The layup was one of the few misses on the night for Fox as she went 10-of-14 shooting, but it did not matter as junior forward Ashley-Ellis Milan hustled down court to rebound FoxâÄôs miss and put the ball back in to give Minnesota a three-point lead. âÄúThat was a huge play, I feel like that was kind of a turning point where we got the momentum,âÄù Fox said. Ellis-Milan also hit 1-of-2 free throws on the Gophers previous possession to give them a one-point lead, and Fox did the same âÄì her only free-throws of the game âÄì on MinnesotaâÄôs final possession to seal the victory. âÄúGreat players step up when their team needs them,âÄù Gophers coach Pam Borton said about Fox. âÄúEmmy stepped up at the right time.âÄù FoxâÄôs scoring average dropped to 10.1 points per game in Big Ten play coming into ThursdayâÄôs game, shooting a rugged 30 percent from the field. As a junior, Fox led Minnesota in scoring with an impressive 17.2 points per game in conference play, shooting 44 percent from the field âÄî enough to earn an All-Big Ten First Team selection and a fourth-place finish in scoring. On Thursday the Gophers senior captain looked to be back in full form with a soft shooting touch, quick moves off the dribble and a killer instinct to score the basketball. âÄúIâÄôve been waiting for this to happen,âÄù Fox said. âÄúI go into every game thinking this is going to be my night, and tonight it finally was.âÄù Fox was hot from the start of the game, shooting 5-of-5 from the field in the first half while Minnesota was still struggling with turnovers and rebounding. Ellis-Milan slipped her screen on Zoe Harper and slid down the right side of the lane for a quick lay-up with five seconds left to give the Gophers some momentum and cut the lead to six at 34-28 at the half. Ellis-Milan finished the night with 12 points on 6-of-8 free throw shooting. Freshman sharp-shooter Kiara Buford picked up where she left off from Sundays game when she hit four 3-pointers and sunk another big three for the Gophers with just under 11 minutes left to give Minnesota a 49-48 lead. FoxâÄôs first miss of the game came with eight minutes remaining in the game on an off-balanced jumper, and Nittany Lions guard Tyra Grant âÄì who finished with 21 points on the night âÄì hit a layup on the next possession to give Penn State the lead back at 52-50. The killer instinct showed for Fox on the next two possessions as the senior came back with two nifty jumpers off the dribble give Minnesota the lead at 54-53. âÄúI wasnâÄôt thinking I was just playing,âÄù Fox said. Fox dribbled behind the back and went right to quickly hit another jump-shot and give the Gophers a 59-57 lead with three minutes left. âÄúShe took some very tough shots tonight, I donâÄôt even know if she was open on most of them,âÄù Borton said. âÄúBut they were falling and I saw her confidence growing as the game went on.âÄù Tough defense by Minnesota and going 14-of-20 from the free-throw line compared to Penn StateâÄôs 8-of-16 allowed the Gophers to keep the lead down the stretch and pick up a tough road win. Gophers return home for rematch against Iowa In one of its worst losses of the season, Minnesota dropped a 74-57 affair at Iowa on Jan. 11. On Sunday at 2 p.m., the Gophers get a chance for revenge on their home court as they host the Hawkeyes in their second matchup this season.