They came in with a game plan, coach Lindsay Whalen said.
The Gophers women's basketball team had to keep 25th-ranked Iowa from getting out on the run and lock down the paint. Contain Monika Czinano inside, Caitlin Clark everywhere else.
It didn't happen.
Stop transition? Iowa scored 23 points there. In the lane? Another 54. Czinano, the Watertown-Mayer native playing on her birthday, scored 23. Clark — the highest-scoring player in Division I women's basketball — had a 35-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double before Iowa coach Lisa Bluder finally took her out of the game with 4½ minutes left.
The final: Iowa 105, Minnesota 49.
"Obviously not a good night for us," Whalen said.
The 56-point loss was tied for the second-worst in program history, the biggest in the NCAA era. For Iowa (11-4 overall, 5-1 Big Ten), it was the program's biggest conference victory ever and third biggest overall.
Down seven after one quarter and 47-34 at the half, the Gophers (9-10, 2-5) were outscored 58-15 in the second half, during which the Gophers made six of 31 shots. That includes a 37-point third quarter by Iowa, which got 20 of those in the paint, 15 on the break, with Czinano, Iowa's center, at times beating everyone down the court. And that includes a 21-3 fourth quarter.
"I'm not happy we lost by a lot on our home court" said junior guard Sara Scalia, who had 15 points, the only Gophers player in double figures. ".. I'm not going to be happy about that. But, move on. Tomorrow. Next day. Be better."
Starting point guard Jasmine Powell was held scoreless for the first time in her college career; Whalen chose to start the second half with Alexia Smith at the point after she provided a spark in the first half.
It will be up to veterans such as Scalia to help the Gophers past this, with a game at Michigan State on Sunday afternoon. "We have to bring them together more," Scalia said. "I mean, you can kind of tell when we aren't playing connected and sometimes really for each other. I think the biggest thing is getting everyone on the same page and giving 100 percent effort."
With the Gophers starting the game 1-for-8, Iowa quickly built a 13-2 lead, a lead that grew to 14 with 3:10 left in the quarter.
But the Gophers finished the quarter on a 7-0 run to pull within seven. Minnesota was still within 13 at halftime.
Then things got tough.
Clark, Gabbie Marshall (16 points) and Czinano all had 10 points in Iowa's 37-12 third quarter. Iowa shot 13-for-19, made three of five threes and eight of nine free throws. The Gophers made only five of 16 shots and did not get to the line.
In the fourth quarter, the Gophers made only one of 15 shots.
Whalen said she felt her team kept playing hard even when things weren't going well. The biggest problems were on defense — Iowa shot nearly 60% and made nine of 17 threes — but the offense clearly struggled, too.
"It went from us hanging in there to us, before you knew it, it was a huge run," Whalen said. "They elevated their level of play, and we didn't respond in the second half. I thought, at times, we needed to be more disciplined. We went for some steals. We took some tough shots. We have to be, all-around, more disciplined."