Minnesota was held scoreless for almost nine minutes at the start of the second.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Minnesota’s women’s basketball team’s hopes for a Big Ten championship all but disappeared Sunday with its second straight loss and a possible injury to its best player.
The 11th-ranked Gophers scored just ten second-half points in a 63-31 loss to No. 10 Purdue on Sunday at Mackey Arena in front of an announced crowd of 11,233.
Junior forward Jamie Broback, Minnesota’s top scorer at 14.4 points per game, got her hand caught in a pile-up after a loose ball and came out of the game midway through the second half. Broback stayed on the team bench icing her arm, but did not check back into the game. The extent of her injury is unknown.
It was the Gophers’ (17-6, 9-3 Big Ten) second-consecutive blowout loss in four days, after losing Thursday at Michigan State.
“We know we’re a better basketball team than we’ve shown in the last two games on the road,” senior guard Shannon Schonrock said. “This wasn’t our Minnesota basketball team that you saw today.”
The Gophers relied on their defense to stick close in the first half, allowing Purdue (20-3, 11-1 Big Ten) to shoot just 37 percent from the field.
But Minnesota struggled to score as well and was down 25-21 at halftime.
Senior guard Shannon Bolden held Purdue’s top scorer Katie Gearlds to just four first-half points, but was switched to guard Aya Traore in the second half after Traore scored on back-to-back possessions in the opening minute.
“I thought Shannon Bolden played an outstanding game,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said.
But with Bolden guarding Traore, Gearlds took off, scoring 14 total points.
“(Bolden) probably would have played 40 minutes if we were still in the ballgame,” Borton said. “It’s a tough match-up … We don’t have two Shannon Bolden’s out there.”
Purdue opened up the second half on a 20-0 run, stretching its lead to 45-21 and holding Minnesota scoreless for almost nine minutes until Bolden hit a three-pointer.
The Gophers shot just 13 percent from the field in the second half, making just three total field goals.
“When we’re on the road against a top-10 team, teams are going to go on runs,” Borton said. “You’ve got to be able to sustain runs and we did not in the second half.
“It just felt like our kids packed it in way too early.”
Perhaps the most interesting play of the game came with less than ten minutes left in the first half, when 5-foot, 3-inch Purdue guard Cherelle George was blindsided with a screen that 6-foot, 3-inch Gophers forward Lauren Lacey set for April Calhoun close to midcourt. The screen sent George to the floor, drawing large boos from the crowd.
“I thought that one screen might have changed the game because our kids got really ticked off,” Boilermakers coach Kristy Curry said. “So, I think when you do do those things, you have to accept the repercussions.”
Bolden was the only player in double figures for Minnesota, with 10 points, while Traore led the Boilermakers with a game-high 22.
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