Gophers women's basketball coach Pam Borton said she hoped that a berth and subsequent run in the WNIT would "propel" her team to bigger and better things next season.
Instead, Minnesota went one-and-done, losing 54-51 to Ball State in the opener Friday at Williams Arena. The Gophers (18-14) trailed 51-35 with 6 minutes remaining before a furious rally fell just short, ending their season.
Micaella Riche had 18 points for the Gophers, while Rachel Banham (12 points, 10 rebounds) was held well below her 21-point average, making just five of her 21 shots.
Brandy Woody led all scorers with 19 points for Ball State, which improved to 16-15.
Banham missed a three-point attempt with 7 seconds left and the Gophers trailing by two. Ball State rebounded the miss and made a free throw for the final point of the game.
Minnesota finished well below its season average of 70 points and made just three of 19 three-point attempts. Ball State, which plays in the Mid-American Conference, went 9-for-20 beyond the arc.
The Gophers were particularly cold in the first half, trailing 27-17 at halftime.