INDIANAPOLIS – There aren’t many games left in Carlie Wagner’s college career, so it was tough when she got a call Friday that her parents couldn’t make it to the Gophers’ first Big Ten tournament game.
Wagner knew she had to win to make sure they’d get to see her play in Indianapolis.
“They told me, ‘You guys better win, because we’re coming down’,” Wagner said. “It was in the back of my mind yesterday. I’m happy they made the trip down.”
Her parents, grandparents and some family friends from New Richland, Minn., got up at 5 o’clock in the morning Saturday to travel to the conference tournament. Minnesota fell 90-88 against No. 13 Ohio State in the semifinals, but Wagner scored 26 points and played all 40 minutes.
Wagner put on a show for her family and the Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd in the first quarter with 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and 5-for-5 at the foul line. Minnesota led by 10 points after the first 10 minutes.
The 5-10 senior guard had 24 points in the first half, but she only managed to score once more in the second half on 1-for-8 shooting from the field.
Buckeyes coach Kevin McGuff’s halftime adjustments made the difference.
“She’s a great player, so she’s very difficult to guard,” McGuff said. “We played man and zone in the first half, and we didn’t have great awareness of where she was. So we played a lot more man in the second half.”
Gophers guard Gadiva Hubbard sat with an ice pack on her face watching her teammates battle Ohio State in the first half after she was hit in the nose reaching in on defense early in the second quarter.
Hubbard broke her nose once before with the Gophers this season, but she decided in the second half she would play through pain.
Hubbard finished with 20 points, including a three-pointer with 5.5 seconds left in the game that gave Minnesota a chance to win on the last play.
“It was kind of scary being that I broke my nose before,” she said.
“But I couldn’t let that mess up my game.”