It had been two years since the MSU women’s basketball team (12-7 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) lost back-to-back games, but Minnesota (11-9, 3-3) snapped the streak, beating the Spartans 71-65 in the teams’ only meeting this regular season.
Minnesota started the game on an 11-2 run and never looked back, as MSU struggled to contain guards Rachel Banham and Kiara Buford.
Buford finished with a game-high 22 points and five rebounds, and Banham added 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
The Spartans never led and were behind by as many as 14 points before heading to the halftime locker room trailing 38-27.
The Golden Gophers built their lead at the free-throw line — outscoring MSU by 17 points — as the Spartans struggled with foul trouble throughout the game.
MSU had five players with two fouls at halftime, including junior forward Courtney Schiffauer and senior forwards Taylor Alton and Lykendra Johnson.
Johnson finished the game with four points and four rebounds before fouling out.
None of the Spartans shot better than 50 percent from the floor, including senior guard Porsché Poole, who was the only Spartan to score in double figures, finishing with 17 points.
MSU did make a run, scoring eight unanswered points and cutting Minnesota’s lead to six at 53-47 with 9:43 to go in the game, but the Spartans never managed to get any closer.
The loss drops MSU into a four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten.
MSU will head on the road to take on Purdue (15-3, 5-0) on Monday (7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
Purdue is the only Big Ten team with an undefeated record in conference play.
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