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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Badgers sputter, fall to Gophers in Leuer's return

gopher: Ralph Sampson III celebrates the Gophers? win over Wisconsin, the third time in a row the Badgers have fallen to Minnesota.

Badgers sputter, fall to Gophers in Leuer's return

MINNEAPOLIS—Wisconsin was supposed to have an added lift entering Thursday's game against hated Minnesota. With UW getting junior forward Jon Leuer back from his broken wrist and with the Gophers being losers of seven of their past 10 games, this contest had a Badger win written all over it.

Somebody forgot to write that in the script.

Behind 16 points from junior guard Blake Hoffarber and a dominating effort on both the offensive and defensive glass from a hungrier Gopher squad, Minnesota extended its current winning streak over UW to three with an emphatic 68-52 win inside a sold-out Williams Arena.

With the loss, UW not only dropped its second of three games, but also essentially squashed any hopes of a Big Ten title.

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""It's always tough to lose a game in the Big Ten,"" said senior guard Jason Bohannon, who chipped in 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. ""Especially when you're right in the heat of a title race. It's tough.

""Minnesota came ready to play, and we just didn't finish the game tonight.""

The Gophers finished the game by hitting 47.6 percent of their shots from the floor in comparison to UW's 30.5-percent clip. Minnesota also controlled the glass, as the Gophers out-boarded Wisconsin by a 41-28 margin.

It seemed every time the Badgers had a chance to make a run or cut into the lead, particularly in the second half, the ball would slip off a Badger fingertip or get lost on its route to the net and miss.

One particular instance comes to mind. With momentum seemingly tilting in the Badgers favor and just less than nine minutes to play, Leuer, who had 4 points on 2-of-12 shooting, hoisted a three that would have cut the Gopher lead to two points.

But unfortunately Leuer's shot set the tone for a stretch of play that effectively doomed the Badgers' chances.

The shot clanked off the iron and fell into the arms of freshman forward Mike Bruesewitz, who promptly kicked it out to Bohannon for an open look from distance. Bohannon, who has been red hot lately, missed his wide-open look.

Again, UW reeled in an offensive rebound, only to see junior forward Tim Jarmusz's shot go by the wayside. When his shot ricocheted off the iron directly to senior guard Trevon Hughes, who finished with a game-high 19 points, UW had a fourth shot to cut the lead to two with a made triple.

Instead, Hughes' shot, like the three immediately prior to his, missed the mark, and Minnesota finally collected a rebound and promptly went on an 11-0 run that didn't end until Hughes hit a 3-pointer with less than two minutes left.

By then, it was too little too late.

""We clawed back and got it to 47-42 and missed three straight wide open looks off of offensive rebounds,"" UW head coach Bo Ryan said of the stretch. ""If somebody is going to tell me that we'd go eight minutes without hitting a shot there ... I just thought we were in great shape to that point, meaning we survived some things early.

""We couldn't buy one.""

Wisconsin finished the game with 33 points off 30 shots from downtown. It also only managed to muster six points inside the paint for the second time in three games. For a team that had momentum seemingly on its side as it heads toward March, Thursday's game was a painful reminder of what happens when shots don't fall.

""Tonight we played like we did last year,"" Hughes said. ""It's unacceptable. We had a crappy week of practice and it was all my fault. I was being a goofball in practice all week, and that's unacceptable.

""I'm going to step up my leadership.""

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