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Gophers Women’s Upset Bid Fails Against No. 3 Buckeyes

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In the dressing room after the game, according to the players, the conversation was not about what had escaped. This was what had been won:

The experience, to learn how hard it is to finish, late, against one of the best teams in the country. Confidence, after one of the youngest rotations in women’s college basketball, played third at Ohio State for much of the game before losing 83-71.

That’s why, after watching a six-point lead after three quarters dissolve as OSU opened the fourth 14-0, after Ohio State improved to 16-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten, Amaya Battle talked about taking a step forward. the right way.

“It was encouraging for me,” she said.

The Gophers (8-7, 1-3) looked different from the team that succumbed to all-court pressure at Maryland last week. For three quarters, they responded to every Buckeyes run with one of their own. With a crowd of 2,410 – including Sophie Hart, the former Farmington star who announced plans to transfer to Minnesota last week – on their feet for much of the game, the Gophers led by four at mid -time and pushed that lead to six entering the Fourth.

But it only took three minutes and a second for that to change.

In that short fourth quarter streak, the Gophers went 0 for 5 — all on layups — as Ohio State scored 14 straight points.

It started with a quick break after a Gophers turnover. Then the Gophers, trying to get an offensive tip, were beaten at the break by Taylor Mikesell.

It was a two-point game.

And then: After another miss from Minnesota, Ohio State rookie Cotie McMahon was fouled by Mi’Cole Cayton, who also took a technical. McMahon made one of two free throws. Mikesell hit both of his. On the ensuing OSU possession, Rikki Harris hit a short jumper. What was essentially a five-point possession put the Gophers behind for good.

“It never comes down to one play, one streak,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. “But it was difficult for us to overcome.”

The Buckeyes were gone, extending the lead to eight before Battle’s free throws with 6:43 left gave the Gophers their first points in the fourth quarter.

It was a tough way for the game to end. There were stretches — especially in the Gophers’ 24-15 second quarter — when it all worked out, when the Gophers got eight of their 16 interceptions, scored seven points on turnovers.

Four Gophers players finished in double figures. Mallory Heyer had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds and led the team in assists (three). Rose Micheaux had 14 points, as did Battle, who added nine rebounds and three blocks. Mara Braun had 12 points.

Mikesell finished with 22 points for Ohio State, which is off to the best start in program history. Harris was 19.

“We handled the press very well,” Heyer said. “And I think we kept our composure for most of the game. Obviously the fourth quarter was a bit different. But it was a great game, we matured a lot. And that’s only going to make us motivate to move forward. Because we don’t want to lose a match like this again.”

Whalen agreed.

“They’re a tough team, and we stayed there, for the most part, with them,” she said. “So I’m proud of the group. There’s something to be happy about. I prefer to learn from victories. We took a bit of a chin attack in the fourth. We’ll regroup and play again on Sunday.”

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