"I really liked our effort, especially in the second half," said head coach Joe McKeown, "We had Minnesota on their heels and just couldn't finish it."
A layup by Diamant with 37 seconds remaining cut the lead, which had been as large as 17 points early in the second half, to just three. But Northwestern's last-ditch three-point shot efforts and the comeback was cut short.
The comeback was needed after the Wildcats dug themselves into a hole in the first half. The team was just 9-29 — 31 percent — from the field in the first half and even worse — 2-11, or 18 percent — from deep.
"Shots weren't falling," Hackney said. "Minnesota is a solid team, but I think it was us not taking the best shots."
On top of that, Diamant had to sit for part of the first half due to foul trouble.
"Foul trouble really hurt us in the first half," McKeown said.
Minnesota was able to draw fouls and capitalize on free throws; the Gophers shot a collective 71 percent from the line.
"Anytime you can get some easy points from the free throw lines it's going to make running your offense easier," said Minnesota head coach Pam Borton.
A significant number of the Gophers' trips to the foul line were taken by freshman guard Rachel Banham. She went 10-13 from the line, a significant contribution to her game-leading and career-high 26 points.
"She played a great game. I thought she did a great job playing aggressive and staying in attack mode," Borton said.
The loss comes as a disappointment to the ‘Cats who managed a 10-3 record outside of the Big Ten before dropping two, first to Iowa on the road and now to Minnesota at home.
"I thought we were going to win the game at the end," McKeown said. "We just have to take the positives and go to Indiana."
That game against the Hoosiers (5-10, 0-2 Big Ten) is another road game, but one the ‘Cats should feel confident about. That game will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. CT.