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Gophers women get scorched from long range, fall to No. 24 Illinois

Gophers center Rose Micheaux had the best game of her one-plus year career. She scored a career-high 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting. She also had 14 rebounds and an assist.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- All they can do is keep working, Lindsay Whalen said. Keep getting to practice early, staying late, getting up shots. Eventually, she is sure, there will be a breakthrough.

"That's the only way I've ever known,'' said Whalen, the Gophers women's basketball coach. "And our players are putting in the work.''

Sunday at Williams Arena the Gophers women's basketball team lost to 24th-ranked Illinois 70-57. It was a game against a talented, athletic Illini team that was essentially decided during a 7½-minute stretch in the second quarter.

Playing without starting guard Katie Borowicz, who was out sick, against the surprise team in the Big Ten, the Gophers held Illinois 11 points under their season average, held them under 40% shooting. For the most part, the Gophers took care of the ball.

But they struggled to score.

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With one exception.

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Rose Micheaux

Gophers center Rose Micheaux had the best game of her one-plus year career. She scored a career-high 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting. She also had 14 rebounds and an assist.

But the rest of the team? A combined 12-for-46 (26.1%) for 33 points.

What will it take to get the Gophers attack on track? "I think overall, what everybody says, it's experience,'' said Amaya Battle, whose 11 points made her the only other Gophers player in double figures. "I feel even today we got some decent looks. We just finish through. Didn't make the shots.''

Down six after the first quarter, the Gophers opened the second with four quick points, forcing an Illinois timeout.

Out of that timeout the Gophers got three consecutive stops, three chances to tie the score. But then Genesis Bryant hit a three with 7:27 left in the half, sparking a 20-8 finish to the half that essentially decided the game. The Gophers committed just 10 turnovers, but six came in that stretch, leading to 10 Illini points.

Minnesota never cut the lead to single digits again, though they did outscore Illinois (15-3, 5-2 in the Big Ten) by one point in the second half. The Illini had four of their five starters score in double figures, led by Makira Cook, who had 20 points and four assists. Bryant finished with 18 points. Former Park Center star Adalia McKenzie scored 13 points with eight rebounds and three steals. Brynn Shoup-Hill also scored 13.

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The Gophers (8-10, 1-6) lost their fifth straight game. And it would have been much more one-sided if not for Micheaux, who was wonderfully efficient.

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Micheaux got her second straight double-double and her sixth of the season. Over her past five games, Micheaux has averaged 18 points with nine rebounds and shot 57.4%. Something clearly has clicked.

"I've been putting a lot of work into working on my craft,'' Micheaux said. "But [it wouldn't happen] if it wasn't for my teammates having confidence in me.''

Team-wide though, confidence could be an issue right now.

All they can do is keep working, Whalen said.

"There is going to be a night when, offensively, shots will fall,'' she said. "Our players are putting in the work. We just have to keep going.''

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
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