Gophers women’s basketball struggles against No. 11 Ohio State

Double-digit turnovers put the Gophers in a hole they could not climb out of.

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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.

Tony Liebert

After four quarters of play, Minnesota left Columbus, Ohio, with a 83-59 loss Sunday, falling to the Ohio State Buckeyes. The team dropped to 5-9 on the season.

The matchup with the No. 11-ranked Buckeyes, a Big Ten elite team, was Minnesota’s first game since its loss to Iowa last Sunday, which snapped the team’s three-game win streak.

Ohio State entered Sunday as the 10th most prolific scoring offense in the country, averaging 83.1 points per game. It is led by sophomore guard Jacy Sheldon, who is averaging a team-high 17 points through 13 contests, along with four other players averaging double figures. Minnesota was set to have its hands full with a Buckeyes team that has won 11 of its 13 games this season.

Minnesota’s hopes of leaving Columbus with a win were a bit lower, as starting guard Gadiva Hubbard was held out of her third consecutive game due to an ankle injury she suffered Jan. 25 against Penn State.

Ohio State played well up to its billing in the first quarter, quickly jumping out to a 14-4 lead. Turnovers and fouls plagued the Gophers in the first 10 minutes. As a team, they recorded six turnovers, while Jasmine Powell picked up her second foul late in the quarter resulting in an extended stay on the bench. Ohio State took advantage, leading 25-14 heading into the second.

The Gophers shrunk the Buckeyes’ lead all the way down to four in quarter number two, but a 9-4 Ohio State run to end the half extended its lead to 39-30. Minnesota’s defense forced its opposition into five turnovers in the quarter but recorded six of its own on offense. After failing to make a single field goal in the final 3:45 of the quarter, the Gophers trailed by nine heading into the locker room.

The Buckeyes came out of the locker room with something to prove, opening the third quarter on a 15-2 run. It only got worse for the Gophers, as seven turnovers in the quarter resulted in 13 Ohio State points. Minnesota trailed 66-41 heading into the final quarter of play.

“Our goal is always less than 14 [turnovers],” Gophers’ head coach Lindsay Whalen said. “But give them credit; they’re as long, as big and as athletic as advertised.”

Gophers Klarke Sconiers and Caroline Strande did their best to make the final score look a lot closer than it really was. The duo combined for 15 points in the fourth quarter, as the Gophers outscored Ohio State 18-17. But the Buckeyes were ultimately too much for Minnesota to handle.

“There are some things that we can take from a positive standpoint for sure,” Whalen said. “The hole we dug at the start of the game and third quarter was unfortunately just too big to overcome.”

As a team the Gophers finished with 25 turnovers, resulting in 27 Ohio State points. Sheldon’s 17 points and a pair of double-doubles from Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Patty were simply too much for Minnesota to overcome.

“We’ll keep working; that is all I know how to do,” Whalen said.

Minnesota will look to get back on track Feb. 10 as the Gophers host Illinois (2-11), which finds itself second to last in the Big Ten standings.