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The Gophers women's basketball team flew nearly 1,000 miles to play a game that was over almost immediately after it began. And now, set to open Big Ten tournament play at Target Center this week, their season has reached a low point.

"It's been tough, this two-game stretch," Gophers coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. "We didn't get after it the way we needed to."

Her team finished the regular season with a 90-34 loss at Penn State on Sunday. The Gophers (15-14, 5-13 Big Ten) lost their fourth game in a row and for the 10th time in 11 games, doing so in historic fashion.

The 56-point margin of defeat was tied for the second most in program history, last done in a 105-49 loss to Iowa in January 2022. The Gophers' point total was tied for sixth lowest in a game and the lowest since scoring 31 against Purdue in February 2006.

The Gophers were outscored 9-0 to start the game, 18-6 in the first quarter and 23-6 before the second quarter was two minutes old.

They missed 16 of their first 17 shots and 22 of their first 24. Their six points in the first matched a season low for a quarter, and their 16 points at halftime was a season low. Up by 28 at halftime, the Lady Lions (18-11, 9-9) started the second half 9-0. Before the quarter was three minutes old, Plitzuweit had all five starters on the bench.

Reserve guard Brynn Senden (10 points) was the only Gophers player in double figures.

The Gophers will play Rutgers (8-23, 2-16) in the late first-round conference tournament game Wednesday evening. Tip-off should be close to 8 p.m.

BOXSCORE: Penn State 90, Gophers 34

Big Ten tournament schedule

Plitzuweit said things have to change before that game. They will still enter the conference tournament without leading scorer Mara Braun (foot injury) and starting center Sophie Hart (hip). Points will continue to be hard to come by.

But the effort level?

"We have to figure out how to get back to playing, to all-out competing," Plitzuweit said. "I wish I had the answer to how we'll do it, what it will take. But that's what we have to do. You have to want to go and compete, and if that's not good enough, so be it."

That was the message being sent when Plitzuweit went with the Gophers bench for much of the third quarter. "Our goal is to play harder and out-work and out-hustle people," she said. "Make plays and be disciplined."

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Penn State has been chasing an NCAA tournament berth — ESPN had the Lady Lions as one of the final four teams out of the field entering the weekend — and shot nearly 62% overall and made 13 three-pointers; Gophers opponents have hit 46 treys the past three games.

The Gophers shot 20% as a team. The five starters scored 21 points on 7-for-41 shooting. Penn State, meanwhile, had four players in double figures, led by Leilani Kapinus (23). Ashley Owusu and Shay Ciezki each had 15. Penn State had a 40-21 edge on rebounds, 32-13 in scoring off the bench, 28-5 on assists and 38-8 in points in the paint.

"When things aren't going your way, there has to be a toughness," Plitzuweit said. "A toughness to get stops, to get out in transition."

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.