Women’s basketball: Wisconsin beats Gophers for first Big Ten victory

After outplaying first-place and third-ranked Ohio State for much of a tight loss last Thursday at Williams Arena, the Gophers went to Madison to play last-place Wisconsin on Sunday.

And lost.

Avery LaBarbera’s 3-pointer with 1:51 left broke a 77-77 tie and Minnesota missed a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds as the Badgers beat Minnesota for their first Big Ten victory of the season, 81-77, at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Mallory Heyer’s defensive rebound gave the Gophers possession with 17 seconds left and coach Lindsay Whalen called a full timeout. But Natalie Leuzinger blocked Mara Braun’s 3-point attempt with 3 seconds left, and LaBarbera made 1 of 2 free throws as time wound down.

The loss dropped Minnesota to 8-8 overall, 1-4 in conference play. The Badgers improved to 5-11, 1-4.

Amaya Battle and Katie Borowicz each scored 17 points for Minnesota, and Heyer added 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

The Gophers trailed by as much as 14 points in the third quarter before slowly chipping away at the lead, closing the quarter on a 14-2 run — during which they were 6 for 6 from the free throw line — to tie the game 62-62 heading into the fourth quarter.

Heyer’s jump shot gave the Gophers their first lead since halftime, 68-66, and her 3-pointer put Minnesota up 75-72 with 3:25 left, and Borowicz’s layup with 2:38 remaining made it 77-75.

But Minnesota wouldn’t score again, missing its final three shots and turning the ball over twice the rest of the way. LaBarbera and Julie Pospisilova each scored 20 points for Wisconsin, which had lost nine of its previous 10 games.

The Gophers outrebounded the Badgers 48-38 and were 21 for 23 from the free throw line but turned the ball over 21 times. Minnesota was outscored off turnovers 27-13, and the Badgers had only 12 turnovers.

The Gophers’ are scheduled to play Rutgers at 7 p.m. Thursday at Williams Arena.

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