Minnesota failed to defend its court in the last home game of the season as the Gophers fell to Purdue 67-54.
The final home game was also senior night, the celebration of the four seniors on Minnesota’s roster.
Forward Whitney Tinjum represented the seniors well in their last home game.
She hasn’t started in recent games, but showed she can be called on when needed. Tinjum scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as part of the starting lineup.
“I’m just happy that I had the opportunity to be here for my last year,” Tinjum said. “I wanted to give my team one more push.”
Winning the last two games, and Northwestern losing its last two, would have put Minnesota at the No. 9 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
After this result, the Gophers are locked in the No. 10 seed, which still gives them a bye on the first day.
Head coach Marlene Stollings said Minnesota wasn’t aggressive enough under the basket in the game.
“Handling physicality around the basket is something that we didn’t do well,” Stollings said. “They just really increased their intensity and rebounded the ball down the stretch a lot better than we did, and it ended up being a big difference maker.”
Purdue had six more rebounds than Minnesota. Stollings said they aimed to win that battle by seven boards based on their scouting information.
In three of its last four losses, the Boilermakers were outrebounded by seven or more in the game.
Stollings said her team found good scoring chances inside, but the Gophers didn’t capitalize on enough of them. They shot 10-33 in the paint.
“What we were trying to do with them sitting so wide in the second half was get the more in the interior,” Stollings said. “We made a good entry pass a lot we just didn’t do anything with it.”
Minnesota needed more scoring from the center position.
Stollings said their next game against No. 2 seed Maryland will be much different.
“With Maryland, you’re looking at a high-scoring game, and they are okay with it being a high-scoring game,” Stollings said. “Very opposite Purdue, they want the score to be very low.”
There were three players in double digits for Minnesota, but they will need more than scoring to match Maryland, the team that sits at the top of the Big Ten standings.
“I think just in general defensively we’re gonna have to be solid,” Stollings said. Their team as a whole has a lot of weapons.”
Purdue went on an 8-0 run to go up 12-4 in the first quarter.
Carlie Wagner hit a 3-pointer to move up to eighth on Minnesota’s all-time scoring list.
The Gophers started the second quarter strong, but Purdue hit back and went into halftime up by three points.
Purdue controlled the third quarter. Minnesota kept the game close though and didn’t let the Boilermakers get into a double-digit lead. Heading into the final quarter, the Gophers were down by seven.
Open looks for Minnesota came, but the Gophers didn’t capitalize when it mattered most.
Down by six with 6:41 remaining, Wagner missed an open look that would have cut the lead to three. Purdue extended its lead to as many as 16 points.
The Boilermakers finished out the game to hand Minnesota their second consecutive loss.
Maryland will be a different kind of challenge.
“It’s an opportunity to do something extraordinary,” Stollings said. “I think that we have some really good matchups at certain positions against them.”