Gophers win back-and-forth game against American

Forward Taiye Bello was a force for Minnesota, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Forward Taiye Bello attempts a layup amidst defenders at Williams Arena on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Gophers went on to defeat Montana State 71-60.

Liam Armstrong

Forward Taiye Bello attempts a layup amidst defenders at Williams Arena on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Gophers went on to defeat Montana State 71-60.

Brendan O'Brien

The Gophers women’s basketball team extended their winning streak on Sunday as they beat American 70-53 in a back-and-forth contest in Washington, D.C. 

Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen said it felt like the game was going to be a struggle for her team early on, but was thankful they were able to find a way to win.

“It just felt like it was going to be one of those games, one of those afternoons and we just couldn’t have that,” Whalen said in a radio interview after the game. “Our guys, thankfully, our leaders … really stepped up.”

So far this season, Minnesota has often struggled to score points and find an offensive rhythm early in games. However, they have been able to overcome these offensive struggles with stout defense. In six of their eight games played this year, the Gophers have held opponents to less than 15 points in the first quarter. 

Senior forward Taiye Bello was the main contributor for the Gophers against American, scoring a season-high 25 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Her double-double Sunday afternoon was her fourth consecutive double-double and sixth in eight total games played this season. 

“Taiye was there all night,” Whalen said. “Taiye was kind of the one at times where we felt like she was the only one able to score at times.”

After battling for the lead throughout the first three quarters of play, the Gophers pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring the last 15 points of the game while American shot poorly from the field. Bello played a significant role in securing the win during this time, scoring 13 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter.

Whalen also saw improvements from the whole team in the second half of the game. Redshirt junior guard Gadiva Hubbard only had three points in the first half but was able to found her groove to close out the game and finished with 12 points. 

Whalen said that freshman guard Jasmine Powell’s play in the fourth quarter helped the Gophers take momentum, as she finished with a team-high five assists to help set up better shots for herself and her teammates. Sara Scalia, the Gophers’ other freshman guard, also added 10 points, four rebounds and four steals.

The Gophers now improve to 7-1 on the season, winning seven-straight games after losing the season opener to Missouri State. Minnesota will play another match in Washington, D.C. when they will take on George Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 10 .