EAST LANSING, MICH. - An unsightly final nine minutes turned a potential road victory into a disappointing defeat for the Gophers women's basketball team in its Big Ten Conference opener.
Despite 21 points from Rachel Banham, the Gophers lost 66-51 to Michigan State on Thursday evening at the Breslin Center, getting outscored 28-12 down the stretch.
The outcome ended the Gophers' five-game winning streak, and it moved the Spartans' winning streak to five games.
Banham scored 17 points in the second half, sparking a 9-0 run that put the Gophers ahead 39-38 with 9 minutes, 26 seconds to go by making a three-pointer, finding Kionna Kellogg for a layup and then hitting a go-ahead jumper.
"No. 1 [Banham] is enough to give you nightmares and keep you up at night. She can just get it going," Spartans coach Suzy Merchant said. " I thought we did a nice job in the first half on her, and she scored seven baskets in the second half."
But Michigan State (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten) responded with an 8-0 run of its own over the next 2:11. Two Kellogg free throws put the Gophers within 48-43 with 5:12 to play, but the Spartans then scored the next five points, and the Gophers (11-4, 0-1) got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
The Gophers, who jumped out to a 9-3 lead early before the teams went to halftime tied at 20-20, shot only 33.3 percent from the floor -- Banham took 24 shots, making nine -- compared to 42.9 percent for the Spartans.
Michigan State also held a 45-33 rebound advantage and got 35 points from reserves, including a team-high 17 from Kiana Johnson and 15 from Jasmine Hines, who shot 7-for-11 from the floor. The Gophers had only four bench points.
Kellogg and Micaella Riche each scored 10 points for the Gophers, and Riche also had a team-high eight rebounds and three steals.