BY MIKE PEDEN
The Minnesota Gopher women's basketball team went in to their Big Ten home opener with Indiana determined to improve their offense after putting up a dud in their loss to Illinois on Thursday.
The Gophers fixed those issues, but found new problems with their defense and top scorers as they dropped their home opener in overtime against the Hoosiers 80-79 Sunday at Williams Arena.
Gophers guard Kiara Buford made only one field goal in 13 tries, while sophomore guard Leah Cotton made two-of-six from the floor. Senior guard China Antoine posted a career-high 21 points and six steals, but did not score a point in the final 8:38 of the game.
"We've got to put our foot down and protect our home court," said Minnesota head coach Pam Borton, who watched a four-game home winning streak snap. "We missed breakaway lay-ups. We missed pull-up jumpers when we were wide open. We didn't finish around the rim."
Indiana (8-6, 2-0) refused to give in to the young Minnesota (8-7, 0-2) squad, finding an answer for every run Minnesota got. With 1:29 left in the game, senior forward Hope Elam tied the game at 70 with a three-pointer, part of a 12-2 run created by Indiana crashing the boards on offense for second-chance points.
"I told them not to worry about the score," said Indiana head coach Felisha Legette-Jack.
Sophomore forward Aulani Sinclair then had a chance to give Indiana their first lead of the second, but bricked a three from the corner. Minnesota guard Brianna Mastey got the rebound and was then fouled, making both her free throws with Minnesota in the double-bonus. Hoosier guard Jori Davis responded with a lay-up from the left side, tying up the score again with 29.4 seconds to go.
Mastey and Kristin Dockery missed two lay-up attempts, giving Indiana one more shot at a road victory, but they failed to find a target on the final possession of regulation. The Gophers did not score a field goal in the last six minutes of the second half.
The Gophers appeared to run on fumes in the extra stanza, although Borton attributed their late performance to growing more timid and not attacking the paint, where the Gophers outscored the Hoosiers 28-20. By the time Mastey sank a three-pointer, cutting a four-point Indiana lead to one, only one-tenth of a second was left, too late to salvage a win.
"We're not the most talented team in the Big Ten. We certainly aren't going to be the fastest or the tallest, but nobody's ever going to outwork us," Legette-Jack said.
No one better reflected their work ethic than Davis and Elam. Davis fell two points short of a career-high, scoring a game-high 31 points, including 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Elam finished with 23 points, sinking five of six three-point attempts and making all six free throws.
The loss overshadowed improved ball control, with Minnesota committing just 12 turnovers to Indiana's 20.
"We were trying to play a little too safe and not doing the things we were doing in the first half of the game," Antoine said.
Indiana's Georgie Jones, making her first visit to Minnesota since she helped St. Paul Central win the class AAAA state championship in 2008, fouled out with just two points from the free throw line. Buford, Jones' high school teammate at the time, coincidentally finished with the same total for Minnesota.
The Gophers return to Williams Wednesday night to host the Iowa Hawkeyes, who will come in with a lot of fire after losing their first two conference games of the season.
Programs available for DVD purchase
Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)
What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15
From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15
Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15
Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15