"Going into games like this is exciting," O'Connor said. "Being in a big Arena with a loud environment and being the underdog is fun, but the name across the jersey of our opponent doesn't mean anything. Our "Kansas City" logo and the pride we take in it out-weighs any name of our opponent. Playing a Big Ten team is a challenge, but I don't treat this game any different than I approach an exhibition game."
Junior Kara Lee added a career-high 12 points for the Kangaroos who drop to 4-6 on the season, while sophomore Rachel Banham led all scorers with 29 points for the Golden Gopher who improve to 8-3.
The 'Roos hung close early after a three-point play by O'Connor cut the Gopher lead to just 16-11 with 14:10 left in the first half.
Minnesota, though, used an 18-2 run to stretch its lead to 34-16 before jumpers from junior Hailey Houser and O'Connor on back-to-back Kansas City possessions ended the rally.
O'Connor and Lee accounted for the 'Roos next nine points and freshman Taylor Leathers knocked down the final field goal of the half with a three from the left wing, as Minnesota took a 46-29 lead into the break.
Coming out of the locker room, the Golden Gophers scored 17 of the first 19 points to extend the margin to 63-31 before a pair of free throws by junior Ashli Hill stopped the run.
The Kangaroos would answer with six of the next eight points, including four by O'Connor and two from freshman Kelsey Barnwell, cutting the deficit to 69-39 at the 9:38 mark of the second half.
A 12-2 run by Minnesota pushed the lead to 40, before an 8-6 run by the 'Roos to end the game gave the Gophers the 87-49 victory.
As a team, the Kangaroos put up 30 points in the paint against the bigger Big Ten opponent, while nearly matching the Gophers in bench points, scoring 18 to the Gophers 19.
Individually for the 'Roos, Hill grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go along with four points and a block, while Leathers finished with seven points.
"We hold the cards to our success and regardless of our opponent on any given night, we are trying to be the best team we can be," O'Connor added. "Tonight we fell short of our potential but we will learn from this and bounce back even stronger."
The Blue & Gold will be back in action again on Saturday when return to Kansas City to take on Eastern Michigan at 2 p.m. at the Swinney Recreation Center.