What might have acted like a balm for a difficult week became another bitter pill to swallow.
The Gophers women’s basketball team, playing on the day junior guard and leading scorer Destiny Pitts announced her intention to leave the program, nearly pulled off a big upset Thursday night.
Up 13 points with 9 minutes, 8 seconds left at Williams Arena, the Gophers were outscored 19-5 the rest of the way in a 76-75 loss to a 22nd-ranked Iowa team that has now won five consecutive Big Ten Conference games.
“They made some big shots,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. “I thought we got some good looks down the stretch. But it came down to one stop for us, again.”
The Gophers (11-6, 1-5 Big Ten) led by nine with 4:47 left and were up four with two minutes to go. But Makenzie Meyer hit a three-pointer with 1:10 left. After a Gophers miss, Alexis Sevillian hit an open corner three with 8.8 seconds left to put Iowa (14-3, 5-1) up 76-74. Gophers guard Gadiva Hubbard was fouled with 0.7 seconds left and missed her first free throw. But, oddly, she made the second to finish the scoring.
Hubbard and freshman guard Sara Scalia each had 18 points. Scalia also had a career-high 10 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double.
Iowa was led by center Monika Czinano’s 21 points on 10-for-11 shooting.
The Gophers have lost five in a row, with four of the losses coming by three points or less.
“I’m very confident we’ll be able to rally through [this],” Hubbard said. “It’s literally just the little things at the end of the game. The next time it happens, we’ll push through.”