PISCATAWAY, N.J. – After leading most of the game, the Gophers women’s basketball went cold late in the fourth quarter and lost to Rutgers 66-55 on Thursday afternoon in their Big Ten opener.
Carlie Wagner’s three-pointer tied the score at 49 with just over four minutes to play. But the Scarlet Knights took over from there, going on a 16-0 run to open a 65-49 lead
Wagner finally ended the drought with another three-pointer, but by then there was only 1:28 left to play. The sophomore guard finished with a team-high 22 points but took 24 shots. She was 4-for-10 on three-pointers and never got to the line.
Rachel Banham had 17 points for the Gophers (8-4), but after making a three-pointer to give her team a 36-27 lead 18 seconds into the third quarter, she missed her last eight shots of the game. Banham finished 7-for-21 from the field, including 3-for-10 on three-pointers.
Her seven field goals put her at 859 for her career, breaking the program record held by Carol Ann Shudlick, the 1994 Wade Trophy winner, by five.
The Gophers got just six points from their other three starters, and no one else scored more than four points.
Coach Marlene Stollings gave two players their first starts of the season: Allina Starr, a 5-10 sophomore forward who transferred from Auburn a year ago and just became eligible, and Annalese Lamke, a 6-3 freshman center.
Starr, who played on three Class 3A championship teams at DeLaSalle, had eight rebounds and two steals in 32 minutes but took only two shots, making one for two points.
Lamke had three rebounds but was scoreless in 15 minutes. Karley Barnes replaced her in the post and had four points and eight rebounds.
The Gophers fell behind 9-3 at the start of the game but used a 21-4 run to take an 24-13 lead in the second quarter. Rutgers (10-3) rallied with a 7-0 run to make it 24-20.
At halftime the Gophers led 33-27, but the Scarlet Knights took the lead 45-44 early in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Scaife scored 23 points to lead Rutgers while Rachel Hollivay had 14 and Kahleah Copper 11. The 6-4 Hollivay also had 12 rebounds and six blocks while Copper had 11 rebounds. Briyona Canty, a fourth starter, scored only eight points but had 10 assists and six steals.
The Gophers outrebounded Rutgers 46-41. But there was a big discrepancy in free throws. The Scarlet Knights were 15-for-25 at the foul line, the Gophers 2-for-4.
Rutgers shot only 39.3 percent from the field, but the Gophers were worse, at 33.3 percent for the game and 27.3 percent in the second half. The Scarlet Knights also outscored the Gophers 30-18 in the paint.
Rutgers went 5-0 during a December homestand, holding all five opponents to 57 points or fewer.