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At least 'U' kept it close, played well

All four games were suspenseful, but only the Minnesota-Connecticut women's game Sunday night was played at the caliber you'd expect from college basketball's Final Fours.

But the Gophers had to call on their mental toughness to keep UConn from turning the game into a lopsided win. Their three baskets in a row midway through the second half dropped the Huskies' lead from 11 to four and meant the game would go down to the wire.

One colleague suggests the Gophers were victimized by bad calls in the final minutes. The replay wasn't too clear on the call where Lindsay Whalen seemed to possibly be fouled going to the basket, and ESPN didn't show replays on what looked like fouls not called on UConn offensive rebounds in the late going.

But what killed the Gophers more than calls was when with about five minutes left they failed to score on four straight trips when the difference was three points. The two-time defending national champions gave them an opening and they didn't capitalize.

And the whole game Minnesota had trouble on its defensive boards. The Gophers outboarded UConn only 15-13 on that end, where a team should get twice as many rebounds as its opponent. Some of that was long rebounds on three-point shots, but -- especially late in the game -- some were short rebounds that resulted directly in putback baskets.

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Craig Swalboski

swalbo@postbulletin.com

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