Golden Gophers get the best of the Lady Wildcats

By Nader Ihmoud

Northwester University forward Kendall Hackney and guard Morgan Jones led the charge in the second half for the Wildcats, but it was not enough to keep the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers from achieving their first road victory of the season Jan. 5, 68-60.

The Wildcats cut the lead down to three with less than a minute remaining in regulation in their conference home opener followed by Golden Gophers guard Rachel Banham executing a three-point play, that would ultimately put an end to NU’s run.

“I’m proud of our team in the second half [and] the way we battled back. We got it down to three… [But] Minnesota made a couple more plays at the end of the game,” said NU Head Coach, Joe McKeown.

NU’s shooting woes allowed the Golden Gophers to pile on and end the first half with a 13-point lead.

“Minnesota is a solid team, but I think it was more of us not taking the best shots, working the ball [and] we needed to attack more,” Hackney said. “We did a better job in the second half for sure. “

Hackney and Jones scored 22 of the team’s 36 second-half points, after only putting together 11 in the first-half. Entering the Jan. 5 match-up the duo had been responsible for 47 percent of NU’s offensive production.

McKeown said NU’s first half struggles on offense led to a bad showing on defense as well.

“Everyday we preach don’t let your offense be your defense, but you know players are human; and when they are not scoring they have a tendency to let down on the defensive end,” McKeown said.

The Golden Gophers shot 42 percent for the game, had 31 free-throw attempts, while being led by a pair of guards, Kiara Buford and Banham. Buford scored 17 of her 19 points in the first half, and then handed the reigns to Banham in the second half where she scored 17 of her 26 points.

The Wildcats were without four-year starter and senior Brittany Orban, who is out indefinitely with a torn ACL, which occurred Nov. 30 against North Carolina State. McKeown refused to use her absence from the line-up as an excuse but admits the team misses their leader.

This loss was NU’s third in a row and fifth of the season. They are currently winless in conference play. NU continues conference play Jan. 8 against the Indiana University Hoosiers.

“[We need] people to step up do some things for us that they haven’t had to do in the past [Jan. 8],” McKeown said.

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