Gophers women's basketball coach Lindsay Whalen has tried to address the issue. She has simulated halftimes during practice, talked with the team about it. More recently she has tried to alternate her rotations with the idea of keeping key players fresher.
None of it has worked.
The Gophers' inability to execute coming out of halftime cost them again in a 83-59 loss at 11th-ranked Ohio State on Sunday.
To be fair, the Gophers struggled to start both halves Sunday in Columbus. The Buckeyes opened the game 11-2 before Minnesota played them even the rest of the first half.
But the third quarter?
From start to finish it was Ohio State. Gophers forward Kadi Sissoko scored the first basket of the third quarter, Ohio State the next 15 points.
By the time the quarter ended Ohio State had outscored them 27-11, expanding a nine-point halftime lead to 25 points.
"We'll keep working," Whalen said. "That's all we know how to do, keep doing what I can do to help us with these starts. We'll keep at it."
There is a reason the Buckeyes (12-2, 9-2 Big Ten), are so highly ranked. The Buckeyes have a deep roster of long, athletic players whose defensive pressure is impressive. Sunday Ohio State scored 27 points off 25 Gophers turnovers; that 15-2 start to the second half included nine points off turnovers and four Buckeyes offensive rebounds.
"We've got to take care of the ball," said Sara Scalia, who scored 12 points for the Gophers, hitting two of their five made three-pointers. "The biggest thing for us was the turnovers, and rebounding. We have to get tougher at boxing out and taking care of the ball."
The Gophers (5-9, 4-8) were again without Gadiva Hubbard, who missed her second game because of a sprained ankle. Starting point guard Jasmine Powell, also battling a sore ankle, scored five points, failing to score in double figures for the first time this season. She picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and sat the fourth quarter. Klarke Sconiers scored 12 points, Sissoko had 13 points and nine rebounds but six turnovers.
The Gophers shot 38% and made five of 17 three-point shots.
Ohio State got double- doubles from post players Dorka Juhasz (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Aaliyah Patty (14 and 10) and got 17 points from Jacy Sheldon. The Buckeyes had a 27-10 edge on points off turnovers, a 40-26 edge in scoring in the paint.
Down 14 late in the first quarter, the Gophers bounced back with a 15-5 run over the next 7 minutes. Katie Borowicz had six points and Sissoko four as the Gophers pulled with 30-26 on Sissoko's layup with 3:45 left in the half.
But Ohio State pushed its lead back to nine at halftime, then sealed the victory in the third quarter.
After back-to-back games with Iowa and Ohio State, the Gophers have home games coming vs. Illinois (Wednesday) and Wisconsin (Sunday), teams with two conference victories between them.
"These next couple games are definitely winnable," Scalia said. "I thin it's going to start with practice, getting reps in. We have to get the young players going a little bit."
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.