Boilermakers’ defense steamrolls UMN women’s basketball

Three Gophers scored in the double digits, but it was not enough to overcome Purdue’s staunch defense.

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Ethan Fine

Guard Mara Braun charges for the basket during the Gophers’ game against Lehigh, Sunday, Nov. 13.

by Theo Franz

The Gophers struggled to make their shots on Saturday against the Purdue Boilermakers and lost by a deficit of nearly 20 points.

Minnesota’s first highlight of the day happened one minute into the game with freshman Mallory Heyer blocking Boilermaker guard Cassidy Hardin’s 3-point shot. Mara Braun grabbed the loose ball, took it down the court and put it through the basket for the game’s first points.

Purdue’s Lasha Petree redeemed Hardin with two 3’s of her own, taking the lead. Minnesota would not hold a lead over Purdue for the remainder of the game.

Minnesota’s Alanna Micheaux struggled early on. After coming off a game where she scored a career-high in points, the sophomore went 0-3 in the first quarter. But she wasn’t the only one who could not get into a rhythm on offense.

Maggie Czinano picked up two fouls in the first half and went 1-4 on the floor. Meanwhile, Isabelle Gradwell came off the bench and gave up the ball on offense twice.

Overall, the Gophers made 29% of their shots in the first half and were out-rebounded 17-23. Purdue took advantage of the offensive inefficiencies, scoring 14 points off of Gopher turnovers and putting them up 44-25 before halftime.

Braun opened up the second half by snagging an offensive rebound off of freshman Amaya Battle’s miss. She dished it back to Battle for another chance at two points. Battle’s second attempt was good and the Gophers trotted back on defense with a pep in their step. The play seemed to have sparked a slight shift in momentum for Minnesota.

Heyer benefitted the most from this shift. The Chaska native knocked down two 3-pointers and helped the Gophers trim the deficit down to a difference of 9 points.

The momentum carried over into the last quarter. It gave Minnesota hope for a comeback. But halfway through the fourth quarter, the continuous pattern of players missing shots and failing to capitalize off of turnovers soon caught up to them.

Petree and Hardin’s 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions dug the Gophers deep into another 15+ point deficit. And with four minutes left in the game, it was too much for the Gophers to recover.

Minnesota finished the 56-75 loss to Purdue shooting 28% from the field, their bench contributing just five of their points. Braun finished as the game’s highest scorer with 15 points, shooting 5-19, while Micheaux pulled down a team-high 15 rebounds in 32 minutes.

The Gophers will host Michigan next on Sunday at 2 p.m.