Gophers Fall to Spartans, 81-56
Jan. 4, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - Dominant rebounding and red-hot second-half shooting powered Michigan State (9-5, 1-0) past Minnesota (11-4, 0-1), 81-56, at Williams Arena on Sunday afternoon in the Big Ten opener for both clubs.
While there were fewer highlights than usual for the Gophers on a tough afternoon in the Barn, Rachel Banham's 13 points gave her 77 career games with 10 or more points, tying her for third on Minnesota's all-time list. Amanda Zahui B. led the Gophers with 21 points and seven rebounds, but those contributions weren't enough to help the Gophers start the conference season with a victory.
Minnesota struggled shooting throughout the game, including making just one of its final 10 three-point attempts. Michigan State could commiserate with the hosts early on, as the two teams shot a combined 32.1 percent (9-of-28) to start and neither established a strong rhythm offensively. Shared shooting struggles kept the game close until around the six-minute mark of the first half, when the Spartans took control of the game by closing the half on a 16-1 run to stretch a two-point lead to a commanding 17-point advantage.
That run carried over into the second half, with Michigan State scoring seven of the half's first nine points to put the game beyond reach for Minnesota. The Spartan's shooting percentage, which had languished around 30 percent for much of the first half, soared to nearly 50 percent with the team shooting 60.7 percent after the break.
Michigan State also controlled the game on the boards, grabbing 42 to 26 for Minnesota, with five different Spartans finishing with at least five rebounds, compared to one (Zahui B.) five-plus rebound performance for Minnesota.
Minnesota will look to bounce back and pick up its first Big Ten win in the 2013-14 season in Iowa City next Wednesday (Jan. 8) when the Gophers take on the Hawkeyes.