It's probably not fair to narrow a 40-minute college basketball game down to 68 seconds.
But, Sunday, the Gophers women's fate turned on 1 minute, 8 seconds at the end of the third quarter. A manageable game became a hole too deep to climb out of in an 83-75 loss to Ohio State at Williams Arena.
"They just went on their run," Deja Winters said. "It was the timing of it all."
Minnesota's Rose Micheaux had just scored and the Gophers trailed by six. In this back-and-forth game, that was manageable.
But: Gabby Hutcherson made a three-pointer at the other end for Ohio State with 1:08 left in the quarter. At the other end, Winters missed. The Buckeyes got out in transition, with Tanya Beacham scoring with 36 seconds left.
And then a whistle. After further, painstaking review, Winters was called for an intentional foul. Jacy Sheldon hit two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Sheldon scored again. It was, essentially, a six-point play and a 9-0 run.
Gone, in 68 seconds.
"I saw the play, but didn't see what they were talking about," Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said of the intentional foul call. "They reviewed it, and that's what they called. We have to live with it. It was a tough stretch."
The Buckeyes (13-3, 5-2 Big Ten), led by Sheldon (32 points, seven assists, six rebounds) shot 51.8% and had a 13-2 edge on bench scoring. Taylor Mikesell had 17 points and Rebeka Mikulasikova added 11.
The Gophers (9-9, 2-4) got 23 points from Sara Scalia, who hit five of 11 threes in this battle between the two top three-point shooting teams in the conference. Winters had 20, Jasmine Powell 17 and nine assists.
Taking some time to adjust to Ohio State's full-court press after made baskets — and struggling on defense — the Gophers were down nine after the first quarter.
But, adjusting their defense, they roared back in the second. Leading briefly, the Gophers trailed by just a point at halftime. Scalia had 11 of her 23 points in the second, during which the Gophers outscored Ohio State 23-15 and held the Buckeyes to 5-for-14 shooting and six turnovers.
Early in the third the Gophers took their second lead of the game, 44-43, on Powell's fast-break drive with 6:14 left.
The rest of the quarter the Gophers shot 3-for-10 while being outscored 21-5, with much of that damage coming at the quarter's end.
As a result Ohio State has now won four consecutive conference games, while dropping the Gophers to 0-3 at home in Big Ten play.
Even a spirited, 26-point fourth quarter in which the Gophers hit four of seven threes wasn't enough to come all the way back. Whalen was proud that her team committed only 13 turnovers against a team that presses from start to finish, as well as how her team rebounded. But it wasn't enough.
"We hung in," Whalen said. "I'm proud of how we battled. But there will be some possession out there we'll need to be better at moving forward, in order to come out with wins in this conference against really good teams like Ohio State."