To defend The Barn on Thursday night, Minnesota called in a Knight, and there was nothing Ohio State seemed to be able to do to stop it.
With Golden Gopher forward Leslie Knight pouring in 33 points, Minnesota beat Ohio State 79-70 at Williams Arena (a.k.a., The Barn) in Minneapolis.
With 5,838 in attendance, the 15th-ranked Buckeyes saw their six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 15-4 on the year. With a 6-2 mark in Big Ten play, they maintained a half-game lead in the conference with five teams sitting just a half-game back at night’s end.
Among those current co-runners-up is Minnesota (14-6, 5-3), thanks in large part to Knight.
The 6-1 senior used a variety of methods to turn in a career-high scoring output. Most of her damage came in the lane, both via crafty post moves and dashing drives, but she also hit a three-pointer and was 8 of 9 from the foul line. From the field, Knight made 12 of 19 shots. She led the Gophers with eight rebounds, as well.
The Buckeyes led for most of the first 10 minutes before Knight ignited a Gopher rally.
She scored 11 straight points for the Golden Gophers as the hosts turned a 13-9 deficit into a 20-16 lead in the middle part of the opening period, and Minnesota took a 33-27 lead into the locker room.
The Gophers extended that advantage to as much as 14 in the second half, only to watch Jantel Lavender and Ashlee Trebilcock spearhead a comeback attempt that saw the Buckeyes tie the score at 50 near the 10-minute mark of period two.
The visitors never could break through, however. They trailed by two, 61-59, when Minnesota’s Ashley Ellis-Milan pulled off an old-fashioned three-point play and Knight hit a driving layup sandwiching a traveling violation on Buckeye Marscilla Packer.
That sequence left the Buckeyes down nine, and they would not threaten again.
Trebilcock led Ohio State with 25 points to tie her career high. She made 9 of 19 shots from the field, including 4 of 10 treys, and grabbed five rounds.
Lavender contributed 21 points and nine rebounds.
Packer, who had 50 points in her first two visits to The Barn, was just 2 of 12 from the field overall on this night and finished with eight points. She also had five assists and five turnovers.
Ohio State’s regular starting point guard, sophomore Shavelle Little, has been bothered recently by a sprained knee and sat out the game. Classmate Maria Moeller started in her stead and contributed eight points, four assists, two turnovers and two steals.
Aside from Knight’s big night, Minnesota’s cause was aided by 16 points from Emily Fox and 12 from Ellis-Milan.
Buckeye mentor Jim Foster was denied his 650th career coaching victory.