Minnesota (11-6, 1-5 Big Ten) took No. 22/24 Iowa (14-3, 5-1) to the wire but couldn’t quite pull off the upset of the Hawkeyes in a 76-75 loss Thursday night at Williams Arena.
“(Iowa) made some big shots,” Minnesota head coach Lindsay Whalen said. “I think a couple times we were just a step away from the shooters and they made some big shots. I thought we got some good looks down the stretch.
“It came down to one stop again for us, and we will break through on one of these. I know it hurts, but I am extremely proud of the team and proud of the way that they battled.”
Freshman Sara Scalia was one of three in double figures for the Gophers has she recorded the first double-double of her career with 18 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. She was 6-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-8 on 3-pointers, one off her career high for 3’s made in game. Scalia, who played all 40 minutes, added two steals and an assist.
“She was unbelievable,” Whale said of Scalia. “She played 40 minutes and put up 18 (points) and 10 rebounds) as a freshman. You can’t really say enough about the way she played. From start to finish she was tremendous for us all night.”
Redshirt junior Gadiva Hubbard matched Scalia with 18 points of her own. For Hubbard, it was her highest point total since going for 24 against UC Davis on Dec. 15. She made a season-high seven free throws on eight attempts and tied a career best with five steals while dishing out four assists.
Also in double figures was senior Jasmine Brunson, who tallied 16 points to set a season high and finish one point off her career high. Playing all 40 minutes, Brunson’s six assists matched a career high she had reached four times previously.
Minnesota led by one after the opening quarter, 19-18, then outscored the Hawkeyes, 24-17, in the second quarter to lead 43-35 at halftime. Hubbard (11) and Scalia (10) both reached double figures by intermission.
The Gophers held a double-digit lead for most of the third quarter, while senior Taiye Bello’s layup with 3:50 to play in the frame gave Minnesota its largest lead at 61-46. A 7-0 run later in the stanza got Iowa within eight, but a layup and made free throw from Brunson stopped the run and pushed the lead back to 11. Minnesota led 66-57 entering the fourth quarter.
A basket from Hubbard gave Minnesota a 70-57 lead with 9:08 remaining but Iowa immediately went on a 13-2 over the next seven minutes to get within 72-70 with 2:50 to play. Brunson hit a bucket in the paint but Iowa’s Makenzie Meyer’s 3-pointer made it a one-point game with 1:10 to play.
A block on the Gophers’ next possession was followed by a go-ahead 3-pointer in the corner from the Hawkeyes’ Alexis Sevillian with 8.8 seconds remaining. Minnesota had a chance to tie when Hubbard was fouled on her game-tying attempt with 0.7 seconds left, but she made one of two free throws before Iowa could run out the clock.
Four of Minnesota’s five losses in conference play have now been by three points or less.
The Gophers return to the road Sunday when they meet Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., at 1 p.m. CT.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)