Gophers top No. 23 Michigan as team looks for NCAA Tournament berth

Senior Carlie Wagner led the team with 26 points.

Gophers guard Carlie Wagner goes up for a shot during Minnesota's game against Michigan on Wednesday, Feb. 14. at Williams Arena.

Maddy Fox

Gophers guard Carlie Wagner goes up for a shot during Minnesota’s game against Michigan on Wednesday, Feb. 14. at Williams Arena.

Ellie Martin

Minnesota held the lead against No. 23 Michigan for most of the game, but a 3-pointer by the Wolverines’ Katelynn Flaherty gave her team an 83-82 lead with five minutes left.

But that’s when the Gophers started to take over.

Minnesota closed out the game on an 11-4 run to win 93-87 at Williams Arena. The victory pushed the team’s  win streak to three games as they fight for an NCAA Tournament bid in the last stretch of the season.

“You have to stay in the game, stay in the moment,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. “You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low.”

Entering the fourth quarter, Minnesota (20-6, 9-4 Big Ten) was trailing by four after having the lead for the majority of the game. 

The quarter continued to be back and forth. The true test came with less than five minutes left, when the Gophers took the lead over Michigan (20-8, 9-6) with a basket by guard Gadiva Hubbard. Hubbard’s make spurred the late run that led to the victory.

Later in the fourth quarter, momentum shifted when Hubbard made a steal with 1:27 left in the game, to convert Michigan’s turnover into a six-point lead. Hubbard scored 17 points and finished with seven assists.

The Gophers secured their upset by scoring the most points of any team against Michigan this season. Heading into the game, no team had scored 90 points on the Wolverines. 

The Gophers also made defensive plays in the win. Minnesota only allowed 14 points the fourth quarter, which helped maintain their narrow lead. The team forced Michigan to commit 16 turnovers and they had just five.

Guard Carlie Wagner continuously found a stride for Minnesota, especially beyond the arc. Wagner had 26 points in the game — first among Minnesota players — and shot 6-11 from 3-point range.

“I was very confident going into the second half,” Wagner said. “It really gets the momentum going when people hit threes.”

The fast pace of the game began right as the game tipped off. The teams exchanged leads before the Gophers closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run. Whether it was late in the game or early on, when Michigan looked like it was pulling away, Minnesota came back. 

Hubbard made a contribution to the team defensively as well as offensively. She had five steals throughout the game. Guard Kenisha Bell helped out with four steals of her own. 

“I know defense at the end is really key”, Hubbard said. 

Minnesota looks to make it four consecutive victories when it takes on No. 10 Maryland Sunday.