Gophers hoping to strengthen family vibes on Thanksgiving road trip

Junior forward Jackie Voigt attempts a basket against Milwaukee November 20 at Williams Arena.

Jason Kopp, Daily File Photo

Junior forward Jackie Voigt attempts a basket against Milwaukee November 20 at Williams Arena.

John Hageman

While most of the country will spend the weekend relaxing with family, the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team will embark on its own Thanksgiving tradition âÄî the first road trip of the year. The Gophers (3-2) will head to Reno, Nev., for the Nugget Classic. They will take on San Diego State Friday and will play either North Carolina State or Nevada Saturday. As the Gophers pass bowls of mashed potatoes across a Nugget Resort table, they hope to build camaraderie, which is especially important for a team with four newcomers. âÄúI think itâÄôs a chance for our team to get to know each other better,âÄù head coach Pam Borton said. âÄúItâÄôs great team bonding. Hopefully we can turn out like the men on their first road trip.âÄù Junior Jackie Voigt said the freshmen like Sari Noga, who is averaging six points in 13 minutes per game, have shown some promise in their first five games, and have hopefully settled into their roles. âÄúI remember back when I was a freshman, thereâÄôs a lot of things to learn,âÄù Voigt said. âÄúYou donâÄôt really realize that coming in.âÄù The tournament will be the third and final four-team tournament the Gophers play this season. The Gophers played five games in nine days earlier this month. Senior Kiara Buford said the number of games packed into the beginning of the year helps the team hit the ground running before they get into conference play. âÄúI like it,âÄù Buford said. âÄúYou always like to play more than you practice.âÄù The Gophers easily advanced to the championship in both their tournaments this season, but fell short of winning it both times. Last weekend, they allowed the most points in BortonâÄôs career at Minnesota in a 97-81 loss to Dayton in the Subway Classic championship game. TheyâÄôve allowed 70 points per game this season, the most in the Big Ten. Borton said the team played into DaytonâÄôs hand by matching its quick pace, which is proof for Buford that a quick start is all-important, especially against good squads. âÄúItâÄôs hard playing catch up,âÄù Buford said. âÄúWe got down 16 to Green Bay and we came back, but that doesnâÄôt happen that often âĦ you canâÄôt put yourself in that position.âÄù San Diego State is 1-2 on the year and lost its leading scorer Jené Morris, but is coming off a trip to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed. North Carolina State also made the tournament last year. âÄúItâÄôs going to be a great test for us on the road,âÄù Borton said. Injury update Junior guard Brianna Mastey will be active this weekend after twisting her ankle against Dayton Sunday. Sophomore center Katie Loberg is making progress after injuring her left knee against Wisconsin-Green Bay two weeks ago. Borton said she planned to have Loberg attempt to practice this week, but didnâÄôt hint at a return this weekend. Senior Kristen Dockery has filled her place well, averaging eight points and more than six rebounds in three starts while providing a defensive presence down low.