Women’s basketball: Turnovers costly in Gophers’ 80-74 loss to Kentucky
Katie Borowicz finished with 16 points, five assists and five steals, and Mallory Heyer and Rose Micheaux each scored 17 points for the Gophers.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota women’s basketball team has a turnover problem. They survived it to beat Penn State in their Big Ten opener last Saturday, but on Wednesday, it did them in.
Jada Walker led four Kentucky players in double figures with 19 points, and Ajae Petty added 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds as the Wildcats held off a late run to beat Minnesota 80-74 at Williams Arena.
The Gophers cut the Kentucky lead to 74-72 on Mallory Heyer’s 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 59 seconds remaining, but the Gophers could never quite get over the hump, failing three times to tie the game — once on a turnover, once on a missed layup and once on two missed free throws — before Walker made a pair of free throws for a 78-74 lead with 28 seconds left.
Katie Borowicz finished with 16 points, five assists and five steals, and Mallory Heyer and Rose Micheaux each scored 17 points for the Gophers (5-4), who finished with 21 turnovers that Kentucky (7-1) turned into 26 points.
Minnesota survived 26 turnovers, most of them in the first half, to beat Penn State 98-96 in double overtime last Saturday at the Barn. But they also made 28 of their 32 free throws in that game — and were nearly perfect in the fourth quarter. On Wednesday, Minnesota was 6-11 from the line, including two misses by Micheaux that could have tied the game with 50.4 seconds left.
Instead, Walker was fouled while running the point and made both free shots to give Kentucky a 78-74 lead with 28 seconds left, and Robyn Benton scored in transition with 15 seconds left for the final margin.
When the Gophers took uncontested shots, they were on point. Overall, they shot 46% from the field (30 for 65) and 61.5% (6 for 11) from 3-point range. But the frenetic pace of play induced a number of quick transition shots that weren’t particularly good looks.
Facing an aggressive press for the second straight game, the Gophers had turnover problems early with nine in the first quarter. The Gophers raced to an 11-4 lead but started losing the ball — and not just against the Wildcats’ press.
At one point, Kentucky was outscoring Minnesota 12-0 on points off turnovers, most of which came during an 18-2 run the Wildcats used to take a 22-13 lead late in the first quarter.
But as has been the case this season, the Gophers clawed back, using an 8-1 run to pull within 23-21 at the end of the first quarter.
The Gophers tied it, 39-39, late in the second quarter on a transition 3-pointer by Mara Braun before Walker drove the court and scored on a layup to close the half.
Minnesota took a 44-43 lead when Micheaux hit one of two free throws early in the third quarter, but it was the Gophers’ last lead. They tied it, 51-51, on a Borowicz 3-pointer with 5:22 left in the third quarter but never led again.
The Gophers are back in Big Ten play on Saturday at No. 16 Iowa (7-3, 1-0), which routed 10th-ranked Iowa State 70-57 on Wednesday in Iowa City.
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