The University of Minnesota (18-14) women's basketball team fell 54-51 to Ball State (16-15) Friday night in the opening round of the WNIT at Williams Arena. The loss ends Minnesota's season.
Ball State jumped on Minnesota early, taking an 11-0 lead on the host Gophers, thanks to an early layup and three-straight three pointers. Kionna Kellogg scored Minnesota's first basket of the contest six minutes into the first half and sparked a 6-0 run from the Maroon and Gold to make the score, 11-6, with just under 12 minutes to play in the first.
A jumper from Banham at 6:38 pulled the Gophers to within eight points, 18-10, before the sophomore cut Ball State's lead to just six points with a driving layup at 4:58. Ball State would answer with a 7-2 run to once again go ahead by 11 points with 2:21 to play in the first stanza. The Cardinals would then take a 27-17 lead into halftime.
Banham had a team-best eight points in the opening half, while Kellogg added five points and six rebounds. It was the fewest points scored by the Gophers in a first half this season, with their previous being 20 points at Michigan State on Jan. 3.
As a team, the Gophers posted a .212 shooting percentage, connecting on just seven of their 33 attempts from the field, while the Cardinals tallied a .345 field goal percentage on 10-29 shooting. Minnesota did hold the advantage on the boards, outrebounding Ball State, 25-21, and added five blocked shots.
The Maroon and Gold opened the second half on a 6-2 run and cut the Cardinals' lead to six points, 29-23, at 14:58 on a short jumper from Kayla Hirt, but a 14-6 run by Ball State gave the visitors a 43-29 lead with 10:16 to play in the contest.
The Cardinals connected on their ninth three-pointer of the contest to take a 16-point lead, its largest of the contest, 51-35, at the 6:11 mark. The Gophers continued to fight back and pulled to within nine points of Ball State, 51-42, with just under four minutes remaining on the clock on a put-back from Riché. A three-pointer from Sari Noga at 2:57 made it a six-point game and a pair of free throws from Riché cut the Cardinals' lead to four points, 51-47. Minnesota would only get within two more points, but eventually fell, 54-51.
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Registration is open for the annual golf event benefiting the Gopher women's basketball program.
Registration Open for Stollings Basketball Camps
The camps will provide the opportunity to play on the Williams Arena court and receive instruction from Gopher women's basketball staff.