Lincoln, Neb. – After a horrible start Saturday, the Gophers women's basketball team lost its second straight game, falling to Nebraska 72-58 in a Big Ten game.
The No. 24 Gophers missed 19 of their first 23 shots and quickly faced an 11-point deficit before a raucous crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
"We need to be a little more consistent from the start and just not dig holes for ourselves," forward Taiye Bello said. "That is just the biggest thing for us right now."
Nebraska (12-2, 2-1 Big Ten) also didn't commit the turnovers that the Gophers have typically created. Minnesota had forced an average of 18.4 turnovers per game; Nebraska made only two in the first half.
With all momentum in Nebraska's direction early, the Gophers made a run of their own.
Gadiva Hubbard scored five straight points for the Gophers (11-3, 1-2), who scored 12 of 16 points in one stretch to cut the deficit to three, 27-24, with 2:56 left in the half.
Then another run came, this time by the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska scored the next eight points and, despite Destiny Pitts' layup for the Gophers just before the buzzer to end the half, took a nine-point lead, 35-26, to the locker room.
"It was definitely a great team effort," said Nebraska 6-5 center Kate Cain, who proved to be a large problem for the undersized Gophers. She had 19 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks.
Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said Nebraska's length played a large factor in disrupting the Gophers offense, which was averaging nearly 80 points per game.
"They had to try and defend a big with a guard, so we just really went inside and to sets that got our posts touches," Nebraska point guard Hannah Whitish said. "I think it worked great."
The Gophers got outrebounded 26-19 in the first half, prompting Whalen to turn to a two-post lineup instead of the team's usual four-outside, one-inside approach.
Kehinde Bello joined her twin sister, Taiye, as the second post most of the second half. Taiye scored a team-high 16 points on 8-for-20 shooting but only had five rebounds — half her average. Kehinde went scoreless — she took only one shot — but had six rebounds, two steals and one block.
"That lineup was pretty good for us," Taiye said. "It gave us some more size inside, and I think Kehinde gave us some really good minutes."
The adjustment worked early in the half, when a set play led to a back screen and easy layup.
And Nebraska's nine-point halftime lead was cut to five early in the third quarter.
Then came another run from the Huskers. Four straight baskets, two of them from beyond the arc, put Minnesota in its deepest hole of the game, 45-30.
"They answered every single run we had," Whalen said. "Even down to the five-minute media timeout. We cut it down to under 10 and they answered every time."
Minnesota turned to full-court pressure, but Nebraska made five three-pointers in the second half to stay ahead.
The Gophers shot only 31.5% from the field, the Cornhuskers 44.3%.
After the Gophers' home loss to Ohio State in their last game, Taiye Bello talked about the importance of bouncing back in the Big Ten. Instead the Gophers' four-game road winning streak from the start of this season ended.
"We're just trying to get back to the team I know we can be," Taiye Bello said. "Last year, we had a rough start to the Big Ten and we don't want to repeat that. We just need a little bit of going back to the drawing board and figuring some things out.
Pitts, averaging 17.1 points and coming off a 26-point game against Ohio State, scored 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting. She also had four of the Gophers' 10 turnovers.