The Gophers women’s basketball team entered Monday’s game with Michigan at Williams Arena on a three-game winning streak. It didn’t take long for that streak to run smack into a wall of maize and blue.
The result: A 77-52 loss to the Wolverines that was every bit as one-sided as the score indicates.
Bigger at almost every position, able to clog the paint on defense and playing efficient inside-out basketball at the other end, Michigan (16-7, 7-5 Big Ten) took a nine-point lead after the first quarter, then kept the hammer down.
It was, by almost any measure, the worst loss of the season for Minnesota (15-9, 5-8), which goes on the road for its next two games:
• The 77 points allowed were tied for most by a Gophers opponent this season and the most by a conference opponent.
• The Gophers’ 52 points was a season low.
• Michigan shot 54.2% and committed just seven turnovers, easily the fewest by a Gophers opponent this season. Michigan, on the other hand, managed 24 points off the Gophers’ 13 turnovers.
“Obviously they’re big at every position,’’ Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. “[Naz] Hillmon is really good. [Amy] Dilk was hitting tonight. They were able to clog the paint. We only scored 18 points in the paint. And that was the difference. They had 44.’’
Hillmon, one of the conference’s best players, worked inside, hitting nine of 14 shots and scoring 21 points with eight rebounds and five assists.
With the Gophers concentrating on trying to slow her down, Dilk went 9-for-15 for 22 points and added eight assists.
“I should have changed some pick-and-roll coverages on her before she got going,’’ Whalen said of Dilk. “We were trying to pack it in, because Hillmon is such a big deal.’’
The Gophers’ lone bright spot was freshman Jasmine Powell. She scored 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. The rest of the Gophers were a combined 13-for-43. But Powell scored just three points after halftime and had seven of the Gophers’ 13 turnovers.
Taiye Bello had 13 points with five rebounds. Sara Scalia played despite injuring her ankle late in the Gophers’ victory at Wisconsin on Thursday. She scored eight points but shot just 3-for-13.
Junior Gadiva Hubbard, who entered the game needing nine points to reach 1,000 for her career, was held scoreless for the first time as a Gopher.
Powell, who has scored 44 points in her past two games, said the Gophers might have gotten frustrated on offense late in the game; they were held scoreless over the final 2 minutes, 22 seconds and hit just two of their final 13 shots.
“A little bit,’’ she said. “I think it hurt our confidence a little bit on defense. But we’re going to keep fighting. These next couple games we’re going to try to go get ’em.’’
Monday’s game ended a stretch in which the Gophers played three of four games at home. They will finish the conference schedule playing three of their last five on the road, starting with back-to-back road games at Ohio State Thursday and at Michigan State next Monday.