Minnesota's Comeback Falls Short in Loss to Wisconsin

Go Gophers! Katie Loberg scored 15 points for the Gophers Thursday night.
Go Gophers!
Katie Loberg scored 15 points for the Gophers Thursday night.
Go Gophers!

Jan. 26, 2012

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The University of Minnesota women's basketball team came back from 16 points down, thanks to double-digit scoring from Rachel Banham, Katie Loberg and Kionna Kellogg, but the home squad ran out of time as its comeback fell short, 78-72, in its Big Ten Border Battle vs. Wisconsin Thursday night at Williams Arena.

The loss dropped the Gophers' record to 11-11 on the season and 3-5 in the Big Ten, while the Badgers improved to 7-13 overall and 3-5 in league play.

Banham tied for the game-high with 19 points, while adding four steals, four rebounds and three assists, and Loberg finished with 15 points, seven of which came at the free throw line, and five rebounds. Kellogg concluded the night with the second double-double of her career. The sophomore scored 10 points, which included a perfect 8-for-8 performance at the free throw line, and grabbed 13 rebounds, while she dished out a career-best five assists.

Kiara Buford chipped in nine points, three assists and two steals, and Sari Noga added six points and three rebounds.

Loberg scored the first basket of the game, but the Gophers fell down early, 7-2, following a 7-0 run from the visitors. A three-pointer off the hand of Banham pulled the home team to within two points, 7-5, but Wisconsin would go on a 16-6 run, this time taking a 12 point lead, 23-11, with just under 12 minutes to play in the opening half.

Back-to-back three pointers by the Badgers would extend their lead to 16 points, 31-15, at the 10 minute mark. The 16-point lead for Wisconsin was its largest of the contest.

Noga answered with a three-pointer of her own, bringing the Gophers within 12 points of the visitors, but the Badgers' sixth three-pointer of the half kept the Red and White ahead by 15 points nearing the seven-minute mark.

A short jumper by junior Amber Dvorak made it a 13-point game, before another basket by the center cut Wisconsin's lead to 11. The Badgers continued to attack the Maroon and Gold defense from beyond the arch, however, connecting on their seventh of the half to make the score, 39-25, with 4:12 remaining in the first stanza.

A layup by Banham closed the gap to 10 points, 39-29, before a layup by Loberg brought the home team to within eight points of the Badgers, 39-31, with under a minute to play until halftime. The visitors would answer with a basket of their own, before a free throw by Loberg sent the Gophers into halftime trailing by nine points, 41-32.

Banham led the squad with nine points and two steals in the first half, while Loberg added seven points and two rebounds. Kellogg paced the home squad on the boards in the opening stanza, grabbing a team-best five rebounds.

Wisconsin shot an impressive .516 (16-31) from the field to open the game, which included a .636 (7-11) mark from three-point range, while Minnesota shot .345 (10-29) from the field, .500 (3-6) from beyond the arch and .750 (9-12) from the free throw line.

Buford's first bucket of the game on an assist from Dvorak pulled Minnesota within six points of the Badgers early in the second half, 44-38, and a free throw by Loberg closed the gap to five points with 17 minutes to play in the game.

A 6-0 run by the visitors slowed the Maroon and Gold's momentum and once again put the home team down by double-figures once again with 14:47 to play.

The Gophers would close the gap to nine points four times in the second half, before Noga hit a three-pointer at 8:39 to pull Minnesota to within eight points, 59-51. A pair of free throws by Kellogg cut Wisconsin's lead to six and put the home team back in the game with eight minutes remaining on the clock.

Another three-pointer from Wisconsin, its ninth of the contest, once again made it a nine-point affair, with the Maroon and Gold trailing, 62-53.

Banham connected on a three-pointer with 4:12 to play to make the score 67-60, before a layup from Brianna Mastey pulled the home team to within five points, 67-62, with 3:27 left on the clock.

Minnesota would cut the lead to five points on Banham's third three-point field goal of the contest with :11 seconds to play, but were forced to foul the rest of the way and eventually ran out of time.

The Gophers return to the Barn Sunday for a Big Ten matchup with No. 9/9 Ohio State at 12:00 p.m. The contest will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network and will also serve as Alumni Day for the home squad.

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