The University of Minnesota women’s basketball team saw its six-game win streak come to an end in heartbreaking fashion Thursday night, losing on a last-second shot at No. 8/9 Maryland, 71-69, in College Park, Md.
Minnesota led 69-62 with 50 seconds remaining, but the Terrapins (24-3, 13-3 B1G) scored the final nine points of the game to defeat the Golden Gophers (19-8, 8-8) for the eighth time in nine all-time meetings.
Kaila Charles, who led all scorers with 29 points, tied the game up at 69-69 with six seconds to go, prompting Minnesota to call its final timeout. Shakira Austin then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and Charles made the go-ahead layup with less than a second remaining.
Minnesota sophomore Destiny Pitts notched her fourth straight game with at least 21 points as she scored a team-high 24. She was 8-of-15 from the floor and 5-of-11 from 3-point range before fouling out with 50 seconds to play. Pitts also had five rebounds and a pair of steals.
In her last nine games, Pitts is averaging 20.2 points per contest while shooting 44.3 percent from 3-point range.
Senior Kenisha Bell also reached the 20-point mark as she tallied 23.to go along with five assists, four rebounds and two steals. She was 9-of-18 from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line.
Junior Jasmine Brunson also reached double figures for the third time in the last four games and fifth time in the last seven contests as she went for 10 points and four rebounds.
Fellow junior Taiye Bello had a game-high 16 rebounds, her 18th game this year with at least 10 boards and her 11th game with at least 15 off the glass. She also had seven points, three steals and a block.
Bell (8), Pitts (6) and Brunson (6) carried the Gophers to a 20-15 lead after the first quarter, combining for all of the team’s points in the quarter.
In the second quarter, Maryland got within four at 32-28 with exactly four minutes to play in the opening half, but the Gophers answered with an 8-0 run that turned into a 13-3 spurt and they led 45-31 with 1:47 to go in the quarter. Maryland scored the final five points of the half, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for Taylor Mikesell, but Minnesota still led 45-36 at intermission.
Pitts kept her scoring up in the second quarter, producing 13 points. It was her third straight game scoring at least 13 points in one quarter. Meanwhile, no other Gopher this year has scored more than 12 points in a stanza.
A 7-0 run midway through the third quarter gave Minnesota its biggest lead of the game at 54-38 with 5:36 left in the frame. At the end of the third, it held a 59-48 edge over the Terrapins.
In the fourth, Maryland outscored the Gophers, 23-10. The Terrapins slowly chipped away at the lead, and twice cut it to five, though Pitts and Bell both answered with layups to push the lead back up to seven. Unfortunately, Bell’s layup with 1:58 to go that put the Gophers up 69-62 would mark the final points of the game for Minnesota.
Minnesota is back in action next Thursday at Rutgers for its final road game of the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CT on Big Ten Network.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)