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No. 9 Maryland’s hot shooting too much for Gophers to handle

The Terrapins’ unrelenting offense led to 11-for-25 shooting behind the three point line.
Image by Shannon Doyle
Gophers forward Kadi Sissoko blocks Eastern Illinois’ Karle Pace at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The Gophers defeated Eastern Illinois 72-68.

The No. 9-ranked Maryland Terrapins’ 44% three-point shooting put the Gophers women’s basketball team in a position that was hard for anyone to come back from, resulting in a 90-73 Gophers’ loss.

The Gophers (2-7) welcomed No. 9 Maryland (10-1) for a Thursday night Big Ten matchup in Williams Arena. The Terrapins entered Thursday riding an eight-game winning streak, four of which came against ranked opponents.

Gophers’ head coach Lindsay Whalen has some familiarity with the Maryland program, as head coach Brenda Frese overlapped as Whalen’s head coach at Minnesota for one season in 2001-2002. The current Gophers’ head coach still has memories that she puts into her coaching today.

“That year was really fun,” Whalen said. “I learned to keep things intense while loose. [It] was really cool with how she coached.”

Frese has been with Maryland ever since and this season she has made Maryland the second most prolific scoring offense in the country, averaging 94.1 points per contest. Remarkably, the Big Ten’s second-ranked team in the preseason poll has five total players averaging double figure scoring. Preseason All-Big Ten sophomore guard Ashely Owusu leads the team averaging 18.1 points per contest.

A struggling Minnesota team entered Thursday with an insurmountable task ahead.

Whalen opted for her normal starting five, as Sara Scalia returned to the lineup following a one-game absence due to a shoulder injury.

Initially, the Gophers did not back down from the daunting Terrapins. Jasmine Powell led all scorers with eight points just over six minutes into the game, giving the Gophers a 13-10 lead. Maryland then seemed to flip a switch, closing out the quarter on a 15-4 run led by 10 points from Chloe Bibby. Maryland led 25-17 after one.

Minnesota did not go away, in large part due to a flurry of three points shots in the second quarter. Scalia joined Powell combining to shoot 4-for-8 from three-point range in the quarter, while Klarke Sconiers added eight points of her own. Maryland didn’t even seem to flinch, as the Terrapins took advantage of the Gophers seven first half turnovers leading to 12 points of their own. The Gophers trailed 50-43 heading into halftime.

The Terrapins’ offense seemed to never let up, especially to open the second half. They began the second half on an 8-2 run, extending the Gophers deficit to 13. It only got worse for Minnesota, as Maryland took advantage of the Gophers 28.6% shooting and five turnovers in the third quarter, resulting in a 76-57 Gophers deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Third quarters have been the Gophers’ Achilles’ heel all season.

“All we can do is keep working,” Whalen said. “We’ve come out of halftime and done drills to get us ready for the second half, but all we can do is keep working.”

Maryland closed out the fourth quarter with no plan of letting the Gophers get back into the game, but Gopher true-freshman guard Katie Borowicz took advantage with some late playing time. The early-enrollee finished with eight late fourth quarter points, but it wasn’t enough, as the Gophers fell 90-73.

“My expectation is to come in and have a really good practice on Saturday and we will continue to build,” Whalen said. “My word with this team is foundation.”

On a positive note, Powell had one of her better games of the season, finishing with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and only three turnovers.

Ultimately, Maryland’s 11-for-25 shooting from behind the three point line was too much for the Gophers to overcome as they fell to 2-7 on the season.

“We’re going to keep fighting, grinding, and bringing our lunch pails because that is what we do,” Whalen said. “We’re going to work and we’re going to make progress every day as a team, because that is why they’re here at the University of Minnesota.”

Next on the schedule for the Gophers is a contest Jan. 19 in Lincoln, Nebraska, against the Cornhuskers.

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