BY MIKE PEDEN
RealTime RPI will have to make a few adjustments for Minnesota's status.
Minnesota defied RealTime RPI's prediction of a loss to Northwestern with a 63-58 win Thursday night at Williams Arena, snapping their seven-game losing streak and recharging a restless fan base.
Sophomore forward Katie Loberg fueled the charge with 21 points and seven offensive rebounds before fouling out late, but the game ball may be awarded to freshman forward Kionna Kellogg, whose persistence resulted in a hard-earned eight points and 15 rebounds.
"I owe that to my teammates, who were finding me the open spots," Loberg said.
"They've had a great attitude up to this point," Gophers head coach Pam Borton said. "(Kionna's) skills are catching up. She's playing hard and playing tough."
Overall, the game stayed on script with the series over the last few years, where the score is close and opportunities are limited.
Minnesota (9-12, 1-7) was hesitant on both sides to begin the game, passing the ball yet unable to find a clean look while yielding 13 free throws to an attacking Northwestern (14-7, 3-5) team, who made 11. Those traits, all too common in their seven-game losing streak, kept the 2,891 in attendance quiet in the first 20 minutes. Adding further anxiety was Minnesota going 0-for-3 from the free throw line in the first.
"One of the keys was not fouling and putting them on the line," Borton said. "(Northwestern) really clogged the paint and we took some tough shots."
The story flipped in the second half, with the Gophers beating the Wildcats in the transition game. The key moment came with 8:49 left in the second, when Minnesota trailed 41-40. The Gophers slowly answered with a 12-3 run, and that turned out to be the push they needed.
One more nail-biter came when junior guard Jackie Voigt missed the back end of free throws with 14 seconds left, giving Northwestern a chance to force overtime, only needing a three-pointer. Daninielle Daimant had an open look, but missed, and senior guard China Antoine got the rebound and made two free throws to ice Minnesota's first Big Ten Conference win.
"When you watch them on tape, they're a dangerous team," said Northwestern head coach Jim McKeown.
In the process, the Gophers forced the Wildcats' Meshia Reed and Allison Mocchi to foul out while sinking 18 of 22 free throws in the second half. Northwestern did sink nine of 14 free throws in the second, but Minnesota's 46-34 edge in rebounds nullified that advantage. That included an early second half possession where Minnesota picked up six offensive rebounds.
"They're padding their own stats," Borton joked. Eight of Kellogg's 15 rebounds were on the offensive side of the glass.
"Everybody went off the bench and I didn't even know what to do," said junior guard Kiara Buford on her team's reaction as time expired.
Buford, who made six of 38 shots in her last three home games, had a cathartic performance after a slow start. While her 5-of-11 shooting would be considered standard, she finished with 18 points and made all eight free throws in the second half.
"Bringing the transition, a strength of my game, and having one or two people back, I thought I was pretty good at drawing fouls," Buford said.
Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke played to her All-American candidate form, scoring a game-high 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting, showcasing her range that has attracted national attention. However, she was the only Northwestern player in double-figures, as the rest of the team made 26 percent of their shots.
"Minnesota outhustled us tonight, got the loose balls. You give up 21 offensive rebounds, you don't deserve to win," McKeown said.
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