Gophers Women’s Basketball using turnover battle to their advantage

Minnesota is 17th in the country in assist-turnover ratio while also causing plenty of turnovers with their defense

by Brendan O'Brien

Back in the first week of November, the Minnesota Gophers women’s basketball team suffered a tough eight-point loss to Missouri State to open the 2019-20 season.

The Gophers struggled to score points early in the game and were unable to put together a comeback victory that afternoon. One of the most significant factors in the loss to Missouri State was turnovers on offense, as the Gophers committed 19 turnovers and lost more opportunities to score points.

But since that first game, the Gophers have flipped the switch and have taken care of the basketball. Minnesota has not turned the ball over as much in any of the following eight contests as they did in the season opener. With this success, the Gophers are 17th in the country in assist-turnover ratio as a team, an important statistic in determining a team’s ability to win games. 

What makes the Gophers’ assist-turnover ratio even more impressive is the play of guards Jasmine Powell,  Sara Scalia and Gadiva Hubbard. Powell and Scalia are both freshmen and have managed to avoid turning the ball over despite their inexperience at the college level. Powell has also done well as one of the primary floor generals for the Gophers, as she is tied for fifth in the Big Ten for assist-turnover ratio.

Hubbard is a redshirt junior but missed last season due to a foot injury and was expected to have to knock off some rust early in the season. However, Hubbard has played well in many facets, including only turning the ball over four times this season.

Not only have the Gophers found a way to limit turnovers on offense, but they have successfully created turnovers through their defense as well. In eight of the nine games this season, Minnesota has had fewer turnovers than their opponent averaging about 12 turnovers a game. All of this has led to more fast-break points and opportunities on the offensive end of the court. After Tuesday’s game against George Washington, six Gophers currently have more than 10 steals, with Hubbard leading the team with 21 steals good for sixth in the Big Ten. 

A possible reason why the Gophers have protected the basketball on offense so well  recently is because of their coaching. During her playing career in the WNBA, Minnesota head coach Lindsay Whalen did not commit many turnovers as a point guard. Nine games into the season, it appears as if Whalen’s playing style is translating into her coaching at Minnesota.