The Minnesota women’s basketball team went down on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Challenge, falling 82-76 against a good North Carolina team at Williams Arena. It was disappointing, but there was a silver lining – freshman forward Alana Micho.
Micheaux was a revelation, scoring a career-high 23 points with five rebounds.
Coach Lindsay Whelan raved about the new player from suburban Detroit before the season even started, and now everyone knows why.
“He has some of the best touches I think I’ve ever seen around the paint, and he nailed down his free throws,” Whelan said. “That was one heck of a game for him — timing, position, getting to his place, but then being able to score through people and finish with finesse like him.”
The 6-foot-2 post made 10 for 8 off the ground and 7 for 8 off the free-throw line to keep Minnesota close in the second half. Her three-point play with 6:24 remaining drew the Gophers to within 67-60, and her inside basket reduced the deficit to 67-65 with 4:39 remaining.
His lack of an ensuing free throw was his only miss from the Stripe, and the Tar Heels scored the next nine points—six by Kennedy Todd Williams—to help pull North Carolina away.
Alyssa Ustby led the Five Tar Heels in double digits with 19 points, and Deja Kelly and Carrie Littlefield added 15 points as North Carolina remained undefeated (8-0). The Gophers were never completely out of it, but they spent most of their effort trying to rally back from a deficit as big as 12.
The Gophers trailed 39-29 at half-time.
Minnesota went 55-54 on a drive from Gadiva Hubbard with 35 seconds in the third quarter, but Todd-Williams hit a free throw after an aggressive rebound, and Kelly hit a half-court shot, with the second remaining. Was. The Tar Heels took a 58-55 lead in the fourth quarter – starting a 9-0 run.
“It looked like there was just a better flow for us in the second half and a lot of it started defensively. We were able to run and get some easy stuff,” Whelan said. “It is tough when you give 10 points to a team in the second quarter. We did it, but that’s when you need those two or three stops in a row.
“So maybe it’s a different ballgame, but give them credit.”
Déj Winters’ three-point game pulled Minnesota to within 75–71 with 1:12 remaining, but Todd-Williams responded with a layup and free throw with 51 seconds to go for a 78–71 lead , and the gophers were never able to catch up.
Winters scored 17 points and Gadiva Hubbard added 14 for the Gophers, who fell 6-4. The Gophers will begin their Big Ten season against Nebraska at Williams Arena on Monday.
The Gophers didn’t have a player like Micho last season, and she could make a big difference this season as the Gophers aim for an NCAA Tournament berth.
“A game like this really boosted my confidence. It helped me a lot,” Micox said. “But I can’t lie: I couldn’t have done it without the team. If it weren’t for them to set up the plays, not tell me how to go about and what screen to set, it never would have happened. ,
The Gophers’ offense was quick. The team made six assists from seven baskets in the first quarter and was tied 17-17 in the second quarter. But things soon began to unravel. By halftime, Minnesota had taken 19 3-point shots and made just three (15.8 percent).