Gopher hoops: Women win, men lose

Whalen's "spirited" half time conversation spurs Gophers

WCCO Radio Newsroom
January 31, 2020 - 4:48 am

(Aaron Lavinsky/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA)


Time and again, the Gopher women's basketball team made up significant deficits to Nebraska.

In the end, they were able to get past the Cornhuskers for just their second win of the month.

Jasmine Powell's 19 points led four Gophers in double figures in Minnesota's 67-61 win at Williams Arena.

The Huskers had leads of 7, 12, and 6 points but were never able to put the hammer down.

But a game-ending 13-4 run was more than enough for the Gophers (13-8, 3-7 Big Ten), who have won just two of their last nine games.

It was Minnesota's first home win in Big Ten play this season.

The Gophers set the stage for their late surge by scoring the first ten points of the third quarter.

That came after what head coach Lindsay Whalen called a "very spirited" locker room conversation during halftime.

"It’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to do it," said Whalen. "Holding them to 22 points in the second half, it was their will and their determination, and the passion they played with, that was the bottom line.”

Jasmine Brunson scored 16 points for the Gophers, who also got 13 points from Tayie Bello and 11 from freshman Sara Scalia of Stillwater.

"It was just more or less those guys taking turns attacking and being aggressive, and that’s what we needed," said Whalen.

Leigha Brown scored 15 to lead Nebraska (15-6, 5-5).


The Gophers host Rutgers on Sunday afternoon.


In Champaign, Ill., the Gopher men's team rallied late but fell short in a 56-51 loss to No. 19 Illinois.

The Gophers nearly erased a late seven-point defecit closing to within one point with 1:43 left on a basket by Daniel Oturu.

But the Illini made four free throws down the stretch to seal their second win of the season over the Gophers.

Andres Feliz scored 17 points while Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn added 13 each as Illinois overcame poor shooting for its seventh straight win

Both teams shot poorly. The Illini shot 33% and the Golden Gophers made 32% of their attempts from the field.

"Well, that was ugly," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. "You have to give Minnesota credit, though. They played us tough."

The Fighting Illini (16-5, 8-2 Big Ten) is tied with No. 14 Michigan State atop the Big Ten standings at the midway mark of the conference's regular season.

Oturu led the Golden Gophers (11-10, 5-6) with a game-high 20 points and Alihan Demir added eight points.

"They were just all-around good," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. "They have a great team, good length and talent."

It was a game of offensive runs most of the night. Illinois went on a 6-0 run midway through the first half on Trent Frazier's two 3-pointers to take a 17-11 game. The Illini would not trail again.

The Gophers used a 7-0 run in the second half to pull within four points before Illinois sealed the victory.

"Our shots fell in the second half," Pitino said. "But something changed on us. They were getting a lot of points at the foul line and we weren't. The game shifted there."

Illinois was 14 of 16 from the foul line and Minnesota was 10 of 12.

The Gophers have lost three of four games and it's clear Oturu needs more help. They need to have a double-digit scorer, or two, join him in the box score to win.


Minnesota hosts Wisconsin on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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