Women lose fifth straight

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The No.12-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers stormed out to a 13-2 lead after five minutes and were never really threatened as they defeated the Illini 64-49.

With the win, the Gophers matched their best start to a Big Ten season by improving to 8-1 and 16-4 overall.

The Illini were unable to deal with the Gophers’ pressure defense and their outside shooting as they went down by as many as 18 points in the first half.

“In the first half, they took us out of everything that we wanted to do,” Illini freshman guard Lori Bjork said.

After getting down 13-2, the Illini attacked the defense by driving into the paint on the next two offensive possessions, but were unable to put a dent into the Gophers lead. The Gophers held the Illini to only one assist in the first half, compared to their seven.

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The Illini shot 32 percent in the half and were unable to hit a three-pointer in the first 20 minutes, going 0-for-5.

The Illini defense was not able to get out on the Gophers outside shooters in time, which allowed Minnesota to make six of twelve three-pointers in the first half. Overall, the Gophers shot 53 percent from the field and were led by forward Jamie Broback’s 14 points and led 39-23 at the half.

“I was pleased with our execution on offense in the first half,” Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said.

In the second half, the Illini continued to attack the basket and was starting to have a positive effect as they were able to cut the Gophers lead to seven points on a couple of occasions.

“We paid attention to the scout in the second half,” Illini head coach Theresa Grentz said.

Illinois also came out in a pressure defense of its own to get back into the game, which caused some problems for the Gophers as they committed nine turnovers in the second half and shot only 39 percent.

When the Illini did get the lead to single digits at the 5:34 mark, the Gophers managed to regain the execution they had in the first half to put the game away.

“We got the lead down to seven and eight points a couple of times, but there was no one who said, ‘Give me the ball,’ Grentz said.

The Illini have not won a game against a ranked team in their last four attempts and it does not get any easier as the Michigan State Spartans visit Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon.

“This stretch is very tough,” senior guard Janelle Hughes said, “and you have to come out focused every game and that is the challenge.”