That the Gophers women’s basketball team was up seven over Ohio State with just over six minutes to play after Destiny Pitts scored on a fast break was kind of amazing.
The Gophers had struggled mightily with their shooting, missing 22 of 28 shots, while falling behind by 14 points late in the second quarter.
But a surge that started with Pitts' four-point play and carried through the third quarter had given Minnesota a two-point lead after three quarters, one stretched to seven just minutes into the fourth after Pitts raced down the floor and scored, forcing a Buckeyes timeout.
And then: not enough.
Up seven with 6:04 left Tuesday, the Gophers were outscored by 10 the rest of the way, held scoreless over the final 2:55. The result was a 66-63 loss to Ohio State at Williams Arena before an announced crowd of 3,981.
“It’s a game of runs,’’ Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. “They had the last run. It’s tough to lose, especially at home.’’
For the Gophers, who inched back to No. 24 in the Associated Press poll on Monday, it was the end of an 11-game winning streak.
They are 11-2 overall, 1-1 in the young Big Ten Conference season.
In the end, offensive dysfunction got the Gophers, who shot just 33.9% overall. They watched the Buckeyes (8-5, 1-1) turn their 16 turnovers into 20 points while scoring the game’s final seven points.
Pitts scored a game-high 26 points. She hit eight of 18 shots overall, five of 10 three-pointers.
But she also had eight of the team’s 16 turnovers, including two in the final 2:09, the final one coming on an offensive foul with the Gophers down one and on the break, with 34 seconds left.
Pitts said she saw Buckeyes defenders in the paint, trying to pick up a charge. She said she tried to gather the ball. But the official called the foul.
Jasmine Brunson had 13 points and forward Taiye Bello, battling the bigger OSU lineup all night, finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
But Gophers other than Pitts shot a combined 8-for-38 overall and 1-for-7 on three-pointers in a late-afternoon game in which the Gophers set season lows for points, field goals made (19) and shooting percentage.
Aaliyah Patty and Kierstan Bell each had 13 for the Buckeyes. Jacy Sheldon had 10.
“We need to start with better intensity,’’ Pitts said. “But we played really hard.
“I think I, personally, have to play better down the stretch. Way too many turnovers to be successful in the Big Ten.’’
But Pitts was the main reason the Gophers got back in the game.
She had 17 points in a 40-19 Gophers run over 15-plus minutes that started with her four-point play with 1:31 left in the second quarter and ended with her basket with 6:04 left in the game.
That lead was still four after Pitts banked home a three with 2:55 left.
But Sheldon answered with a wide-open three. After Pitts traveled, Patty got open underneath to put the Buckeyes up a point with 1:40 left. The two teams traded misses, with Sara Scalia rebounding Sheldon’s missed three-point attempt. The ball got to Pitts on the break, but she was called for the team’s final turnover of the night.
The Gophers got Ohio State to miss at the other end, but Dorka Juhasz was able to rebound her own miss, essentially sealing the game.
“Every night’s going to be a battle,’’ Bello said. “We’ll bounce back. We have no choice in the Big Ten.”