Minnesota batter Natalie DenHartog (31) takes a practice swing against Texas Southern during an NCAA softball game on Friday, March 8, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Stephen Spillman)

The No. 18 Minnesota Gophers set the tone early and never let up in an 11-2 victory in five innings over Binghamton to close out the Auburn Tournament. The Gophers are now 12-7 overall after finishing the weekend 4-1 at the Auburn Tournament.

Binghamton got on the board first to start the day, but Minnesota wasted no time responding. In the bottom of the first, MaKenna Partain led off with a walk and Brooke Vander Heide reached on an error. Natalie DenHartog followed with a three-run blast over the center field wall to put the Gophers up 3-1. It was DenHartog’s fifth home run of the season.

Minnesota increased their lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the second. Partain started the scoring as she raced in on a wild pitch. Freshman Sydney Strelow lined her second double of the game to tack on two more runs.

The bats stayed hot in the third. Katelyn Kemmetmueller quickly reached base as she led off with a double to the gap in left. In the next at-bat, Olivia Peterson brought Kemmetmueller home with a bloop single to center.

Partain continued the inning with an RBI-single of her own. Partain and DenHartog are tied for the team lead with 19 RBIs each. Emily Hansen broke the game open and made the score 11-1 in favor of the Gophers with a three-run home run, her second long ball of the weekend.

Carlie Brandt got the start in the circle for the first time since Feb. 16, 2019. The senior earned the win after she went three innings and allowed just one run on three hits. Ava Dueck entered in the fourth inning to finish the game. She only gave up one run on two hits. Dueck struck out two in her two innings of work.

Brandt also played right field for the first time ever in the victory. She has now played eight fielding positions and the DP spot in her Gophers career. The only position she has never played in her Minnesota career is catcher.


WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
MINNEAPOLIS — Taylor Mikesell scored 22 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range to lead seventh-ranked Maryland’s romp past Minnesota 99-44 on Sunday afternoon as the Terrapins forged a tie for the Big Ten title and finished the regular season on a 14-game winning streak.

Ashley Owusu had 17 points, Kaila Charles added 15 points and Stephanie Jones and Shakira Austin each pitched in 13 points for the Terrapins (25-4, 16-2), who shared first place with Northwestern and recorded their fifth regular-season conference championship in just six years in the league. The Terps won the tiebreaker with the Wildcats and will have the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament next weekend.

Sara Scalia scored 10 points for the Gophers (15-14, 5-13), who lost their sixth straight game and suffered their most lopsided loss in two seasons under coach Lindsay Whalen. Taiye Bello, one of four seniors playing in their final home game, had seven points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota.

Northwestern’s first conference title share in three decades — since finishing as co-champs with Iowa in 1989-90 — became the story of the winter in Big Ten women’s basketball. Maryland’s dominance down the stretch wasn’t much of a plot twist, but this was one of the best productions in coach Brenda Frese’s 18 seasons.

The Terrapins last lost on Jan. 9 at third-place Iowa. Since then, the only opponents to come closer than 18 points were Northwestern (70-61) and Indiana (76-62 and 79-69). The average margin of victory in Maryland’s last six games was 37.8 points.

The Terrapins, who are the fifth-highest scoring team in the country, had a 54-16 advantage in points in the paint, drawing three-point plays at will.

Maryland’s defense might be even more dangerous. The Terrapins posted 24 steals and forced 35 turnovers. Gophers freshman point guard Jasmine Powell, who had four 20-plus-point games in February, finished with six points on 2-for-10 shooting and had 10 turnovers. After making their first three shots, the Gophers went 12 for 51 from the floor over the rest of the game.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: Frese, who spent one season at Minnesota in 2001-02 when Whalen was a sophomore on the team, steered the Terrapins to the 2006 national title and took them back to the Final Four in 2014 and 2015. This team is well-stocked and well-poised for another deep run.

Minnesota: Whalen and her staff have a long way to go to get the Gophers back in contention for NCAA Tournament bids and Big Ten titles. Their midseason setback of losing leading scorer Destiny Pitts, who announced Jan. 16 she was transferring after being suspended in a dispute with Whalen and the staff over about attitude, was too much to overcome. They went 4-13 after Dec. 28.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Gets a double bye into the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. The Terrapins play on Friday afternoon in Indianapolis against the No. 8 seed Michigan State-No. 9 seed Purdue winner.

Minnesota: Has the No. 11 seed for the Big Ten tournament, meaning a first-round matchup against last-place Penn State on Wednesday afternoon. With a win, the Gophers would play No. 6 seed Ohio State on Thursday night.


MEN’S BASKETBALL

MADISON, Wisc. — A little more than a month into the season, Wisconsin was 5-5.

With a week to go in Big Ten play, the Badgers are one game out of first place.

Brad Davison scored 20 points and Brevin Pritzl added 15 as Wisconsin rallied from a late deficit to beat Minnesota 71-69 on Sunday night.

It wasn’t always pretty. Still, coach Greg Gard said it was emblematic of the grit his team has shown this season. Months before the season began, assistant coach Howard Moore was badly hurt in a car accident that killed his wife and one of his children.

Meanwhile, Micah Potter — now a key reserve — lost his appeals with the NCAA for immediate eligibility after transferring from Ohio State and couldn’t play until Dec. 21.

Then in late January, second-leading scorer Kobe King announced he was transferring.

But the Badgers (19-10, 12-6) have now won six straight and sit in a three-way tie for second place in the conference.

“This group has gone through more than any team that I’ve been around in 30 years, and I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve accomplished to this point,” Gard said. “The neat thing is they want more.”

For Minnesota (13-15, 7-11) it was a second straight loss in which they couldn’t hold onto a late lead.

Last week, it was blowing a 17-point lead over Maryland, which hit a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to beat the Gophers. This time, it was watching a tough bounce and missed free throws sink their chances.

Davison missed a 3, but Aleem Ford tipped the rebound to the perimeter, setting off a scramble for the ball. D’Mitrik Trice came up with it, drove toward the top of the key and found Pritzl in the corner for a wide-open 3 that put the Badgers up 67-66 with less than a minute to go.

After giving up the lead on the next possession, Trice helped put the Badgers up for good with another good find, hitting a cutting Ford for an open dunk with 30.5 second left to grab a 69-68 lead.

Ford said Pritzl suggested the play during a timeout.

“That’s just a play that we had in the back of our pockets, and we executed it,” Pritzl said.

The Badgers had trouble stopping Daniel Oturu in the paint, where the Gophers had a 34-24 scoring advantage, and defending Marcus Carr’s straight-line drives. Oturu led Minnesota with 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Carr added 21 as they often carried the Gophers’ offense down the stretch.

But they couldn’t put them over the hump.

After that Ford dunk, Oturu went into the post and backed down Nate Reuvers, who blocked Oturu’s shot. Pritzl grabbed the rebound, was fouled and then sank both free throws for a 71-68 lead.

The Gophers then got four free throws, but could only connect on one. Carr was fouled on the perimeter before missing both of his. Oturu was then fouled in the scramble for the rebound, hitting one.

Potter was fouled rebounding the second miss, but he failed to connect on either free throw attempt. That left the door open for Oturu to dribble to half court for a desperation heave that was well off the mark.

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said other than losing Ford on his dunk, the Gophers competed down the stretch, unlike in the loss to Maryland.

“I thought they grew down the stretch,” Pitino said.

RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM

With Maryland leading the conference at 13-5, Wisconsin closes out the regular conference season at home against Northwestern on Wednesday before traveling to Indiana on Saturday.

Potter said the Badgers’ mindset is simple — just win and let everything else work itself out.

“Obviously, we all know where we’re at in our standings,” Potter said. “But like I said, all we can do is control what we can control.”

BIG PICTURE

Minnesota: The Gophers have now lost five of six, the last two in heartbreaking fashion.

Wisconsin: The Badgers lost only one game in February, at Minnesota. They have now reeled off six straight wins.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: Travels to Indiana on Wednesday.

Wisconsin: Hosts Northwestern on Wednesday.


BASEBALL
MINNEAPOLIS – The Gopher Baseball team possessed the lead over No. 13 NC State as late as the eighth inning on Sunday night but were ultimately unable to hold off the Wolfpack, falling 11-7.

Despite being unable to hang on for an upset victory, Minnesota walked away with some major hardware on Sunday. Max Meyer was named the 2020 CambriaCollegeClassic Tournament MVP for his complete game, 14-strikeout performance against North Carolina on Friday. The Gopher ace was also recognized as an All-Tournament Team honoree at the starting pitcher position.

Teammates Zack Raabe and Jack Wassel joined Meyer in garnering All-Tournament Team honors. Raabe was named to the All-Tournament Team at the second base position, while Wassel earned the same nod at third base.

As for the action on the field, NC State owned the scoring battle in the early innings and jumped out to a 3-0 lead through the game’s first three frames off Gopher starter Drake Davis. Making his first career start, Davis tossed 3 2/3 innings with three earned runs on six hits, three walks and six strikeouts. The outing featured new career highs for Davis in both innings pitched and strikeouts.

Although Minnesota fell behind early during the first two and a half frames, the Maroon and Gold owned the middle innings. In the bottom of the third, the Gophers erupted for a four run inning to take the lead, 4-3.

The scoring started with an RBI infield single off the bat of Wassel, followed by a bases loaded hit-by-pitch from Easton Bertrand that brought Andrew Wilhite in to score. Jack Kelly then drew a bases loaded walk to score Raabe. Chase Stanke finished off the big inning, reaching on a fielder’s choice that brought Wassel all the way around for another run.

Already with a 4-3 lead, Minnesota posted three more runs in the fourth, featuring a two-run Bertrand homer to left field. The long ball marked Bertrand’s second in as many days, as the Gopher outfielder also went deep on Saturday against Duke to knot the game at 3-3 in the eighth.

After pushing their advantage to 7-3, the Gophers would unfortunately be done scoring for the night. The Wolfpack chipped away at the lead with two runs in the fifth, before plating three more runs in the eighth to go ahead, 9-7. NC State would hold on to win the game from there, scoring two more runs in the top of the ninth.

Sam Ireland received the loss for Minnesota despite working the U out of a couple jams in the latter innings. The freshman threw three innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Ireland joined Davis is setting new career highs in both innings pitched and strikeouts in the game.

Reliever David Harrison earned the win for NC State, firing five shutout innings and giving up just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts.

With the conclusion of Sunday’s nightcap, the 2020 CambriaCollegeClassic is officially in the books. After taking down the Gophers in the tournament’s ninth and final game, NC State came away with the Tournament Championship after going 3-0 on the weekend.

Below is a complete overview from the 2020 CambriaCollegeClassic post-tournament awards ceremony.

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