Gophers fall 82-76 to North Carolina in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

After winning three of their last four games and three straight at home, the Gophers weren’t able to get past the Tar Heels, losing 82-76

Gophers guard Gadiva Hubbard prepares to shoot during Minnesotas game against Penn State on Sunday, February 12, 2018. The Gophers won 101-68.

Maddy Fox

Gophers guard Gadiva Hubbard prepares to shoot during Minnesota’s game against Penn State on Sunday, February 12, 2018. The Gophers won 101-68.

by Tony Liebert, Sports Reporter

A career-high 23 points from freshman Alanna Micheaux wasn’t enough for the Gophers who came up short at home against North Carolina.

After picking up two home victories over the weekend against Bradley and UTSA, the Gophers welcomed a 6-0 North Carolina team to Williams Arena in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Head coach Lindsay Whalen opted to deploy a different starting lineup. Sophomore Alexia Smith replaced second-leading scorer (13 PPG) Jasmine Powell at point guard. She was accompanied by Sara Scalia, Deja Winters, Kadi Sissoko and Bailey Helgren.

It didn’t take long for Powell to check into the game. Less than four minutes into the game, she joined Minnesota’s lineup.

The early change resulted in an evenly matched first quarter. The Gophers and Tar Heels were tied at 17 after 10 minutes of play. Senior guard Gadivia Hubbard led Minnesota with six points.

Redshirt junior forward Kadi Sissoko came up big for the Gophers in the second quarter with a team-high eight points, bringing her first-half total to 10. That was about all of the production Minnesota could find offensively, as freshman Alanna Micheaux was the only other Gophers’ player to record a point, with four in the quarter.

After failing to make a single field goal in the last 4:15 of the second quarter, Minnesota was outscored 12-22 in the quarter, and North Carolina made five of its last seven, taking a 39-29 lead into the half.

Graduate student guard Deja Winters led the Gophers to a hot start out of the locker room. Her two threes in the quarter brought her to three for the game and brought the Maroon & Gold right back into the game.

Six more points from both Powell and Micheaux helped Minnesota storm back in a big way, trailing 55-58 after a last-second North Carolina three-pointer.

North Carolina carried its momentum into the fourth quarter. After the Tar Heels went on a 9-2 run, the Gophers found themselves trailing by 10 points once again.

Minnesota responded with an 8-0 run of its own, making for a back-and-forth finish to the game.

True freshman Alanna Micheaux’s career night went well into the final quarter of play. The 6-foot-2-inch forward finished with a career-best 23 points on a remarkable 8-10 shooting from the field.

It wasn’t enough for the Gophers, losing 46-41 in the rebounding total, and 40-30 in points in the paint. The Tar Heels ultimately came out on top of the scoreboard 82-76.

It was a balanced performance from North Carolina with six different players scoring in double figures, as Minnesota now moves to 6-4 on the season.

The Gophers will now have a five-day break — their longest since tipping off the 2021-22 season, until hosting Nebraska on Dec. 6 in their first Big Ten matchup of the season.