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Gophers women’s basketball falls short 65-60 to Northwestern in Big Ten Tournament

A late comeback attempt from Minnesota came up short, ending its postseason hopes.
Minnesota Guard Deja Winters prepares to make a shot in a game against the Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday, Jan. 30 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

The Gophers entered Thursday with the hopes of starting a magical March Madness run in the Big Ten Tournament, but a late comeback attempt against Northwestern came up short 65-60

20 days ago, the Gophers knocked off Northwestern 74-68 at Williams Arena. Fast-forward to Thursday night, No. 10 seeded Minnesota looked to find the same success against the No. 7 Wildcats in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

An opening-shot three-point make from Sara Scalia set the tone for the Gophers. After jumping out to a 9-6 lead, Minnesota conceded a 9-0 Northwestern run. Minnesota trailed 19-16 after 10 minutes of play.

Thanks to a hot second-quarter start from Kadi Sissoko offensively, the Gophers jumped out to a 28-21 lead. The Wildcats responded with a 7-1 run to close the second quarter and Minnesota led 29-28 heading into the locker room.

The Gophers led 23-19 in total rebounds at the half, an area in which they have struggled all season. Improved rebounding alongside 42% shooting as a team led to the halftime lead.

The third quarter was graduate student Deja Winters’ time to shine. The veteran guard totaled 10 points, highlighted by two pick threes. The Gophers weren’t able to get much other offensive production and carried a 49-48 deficit into the fourth quarter.

It looked like Northwestern had sealed the win, but six consecutive missed free throws opened the door for the Gophers.

Sara Scalia and Minnesota did all they could to get back into the game. They had the ball with 20 seconds left and were down by just three points, but ultimately came up short 65-60.

After both totaling 32 points in Sunday’s regular-season finale, Kadi Sissoko and Sara Scalia both finished with a team-high 18 points tonight and Deja Winters was the only other Minnesota player in double figures with 10.

Missed Northwestern free throws opened the door for the Gophers down the stretch, but 14 turnovers compared to Northwestern’s eight put them in too big of a hole to pull themselves out of.

The Gophers finished the regular season with a 14-17 record, but after tonight’s first-round exit from the Big Ten Tournament, the Gophers’ hopes of a postseason tournament are likely over.

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