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March 7, 2013
After a close first half, the University of Minnesota (18-13) women's basketball team lost to Ohio State (18-12), 58-47, in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
All-Big Ten guard Rachel Banham scored 20 points and second-team selection Micaëlla Riché matched a career high with 15 rebounds, but the eighth-seeded Golden Gophers could not recover from an early second-half run by the ninth-seeded Buckeyes.
Banham and Riché combined to score the Gophers' first 12 points of the game. Minnesota jumped to an early 10-4 lead behind the duo's offense and team defense that forced two shot clock violations in the opening six minutes.
Tayler Hill, Ohio State's All-Big Ten selection, gave the Buckeyes a 13-12 lead at the 8:32 mark during a six-minute Gopher field goal drought. Minnesota kept the score close and regained the lead with free throws.
Banham's third three-pointer of the game snapped the drought at the 7:00 mark. Katie Loberg, the first Gopher not named Banham or Riché to make a field goal, scored two consecutive baskets to put Minnesota ahead 22-15 during a five-minute field goal drought for Ohio State.
The Gophers held onto a 25-24 lead at halftime. Banham scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and Riché pulled down 10 rebounds to lead Minnesota in the first period. For the Buckeyes, Hill and Ashley Adams scored 10 and eight points, respectively.
Ohio State went on a 19-4 run in the second half to build a 43-29 advantage. The lead fluctuated between double and single digits as the Gophers started to score more baskets. Sari Noga and Kionna Kellogg contributed strong second-half play to keep Minnesota in the game. In the half, Noga made two three-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds, while Kellogg tallied six points and five rebounds.
Hill scored a game-high 25 points to lead Ohio State. She made 11 of her 14 free throw attempts, and the Buckeyes went 17-of-27 to Minnesota's 5-of-7 from the line. Adams added 14 points and eight rebounds for Ohio State.
The Gophers will find out their postseason fate on Monday, March 18. ESPN will televise the NCAA Tournament selection show at 6 p.m. CT.
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