Biggest crowd in 4 years sees Minnesota women lose by 22 to Nebraska

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 21, 2013 - 7:05 AM

The biggest home crowd in four years saw the U women give up their most points in a Big Ten game since 2006.

With the Gophers women's basketball team enjoying its best season in four years, coach Pam Borton wanted a big crowd to come see what it's been missing.

Borton pledged to donate $5,000 to charity if 5,000 fans came to Williams Arena for Sunday's game against Nebraska, and the Gophers drew 6,361.

But the biggest home crowd in four years watched the Gophers give up the most points they've allowed in a Big Ten game since 2006, as the Cornhuskers pulled away in the second half for an 84-63 victory.

"Today I felt like we laid an egg," Borton said. "Up until this point, I think we've been playing great basketball."

The Gophers (13-6, 2-3 Big Ten) began a tough stretch of their schedule when they took a 75-67 loss at No. 12 Purdue last week.

Nebraska (13-6, 3-3) had been ranked in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 before taking back-to-back losses to Penn State and Illinois.

"They came in with their backs against the wall," Borton said of the Cornhuskers. "This was a must-win for them, and obviously it was a must-win for us, as well, for us to protect our home court in the Big Ten."

The Gophers were 10-1 at home coming into the game, and the Cornhuskers were winless in four previous trips to Minnesota.

This time, Nebraska jumped to a 10-0 lead, and the Gophers responded with a 15-2 run, keeping the Cornhuskers to a 41-38 lead at halftime.

But when Nebraska opened the second half with another 7-0 run, the Gophers simply collapsed.

It wound up being the most points Minnesota has allowed in a Big Ten game since an 84-61 loss to Michigan State on Feb. 9, 2006.

"I mean, that was embarrassing, really," Gophers junior Micaella Riche said.

Rachel Banham led the Gophers with 15 points, but she missed her first six shots of the second half, as Nebraska stuck to its zone defense and opened up a 61-44 lead.

Nebraska senior guard Lindsey Moore scored 18 of her team-leading 26 points in the second half and finished with seven rebounds and seven assists.

"[Moore's] just a good player, and we've got to figure out how to stop sooner than 40 minutes after the game's done," Riche said.

The Gophers played evenly with Nebraska in the first half, with both teams going 8-for-10 at the free-throw line. But in the second half, the Cornhuskers made 10 of 13 free-throw attempts, and the Gophers didn't get to the line once.

"I think we need to be a little more aggressive taking the ball to the rim," Borton said. "We're making a lot of shots fading away and avoiding contact."

But as Borton said, defense is the biggest issue.

"Giving up 84 points, you're not going to win very many games," she said.

And this Thursday, the Gophers play at No. 8 Penn State.

"Our team will respond," Borton said. "This team's got a lot of character. They've worked hard all year."

  • NEBRASKA 84, GOPHERS WOMEN 63 • Up next: 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Penn State • TV: Big Ten Network (1500-AM)

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