Antoine’s hot hand from 3-point land lifts Gophers over Pittsburgh

John Hageman

After trailing for much of the first half, a late-half surge did the trick. Thanks to a handful of second-half 3-pointers from senior China Antoine, the Gophers (2-1) held off Pittsburgh (1-1) 73-63 Wednesday night at Williams Arena in the inaugural game of the Super Six Series. The Gophers staved off a Pittsburgh run to start off the second half that tied the game at 41 before the Gophers went on a 9-0 run of their own. They maintained that lead for the rest of the game. âÄúI think thatâÄôs a sign âÄî this is going to sound strange âÄî of maturity in a young basketball team,âÄù Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. âÄúYou canâÄôt get too high on the highs and you canâÄôt get too low on the lows.âÄù The two teams exchanged punches to start the game, with neither breaking away from the other. The Gophers didnâÄôt lead for 10 straight minutes in the first half, but despite some miscues âÄî the Panthers had seven offensive rebounds in the first half âÄî Minnesota stuck around, never trailing by more than six. The Gophers took back the lead on an Antoine 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining in the first, part of an 11-0 run to close out the half and giving Minnesota a 41-34 lead. Antoine finished the game 6-for-7 from behind the arc, and her career-high 18 points was the first time she has scored more than four this season. After missing a good chunk of last season due to injury, she said it felt good to break through. âÄúIâÄôve been working on my shot for the past few days, to get back in that rhythm again,âÄù Antoine said. âÄúTonight felt great to be able to help my team out in any way that I can.âÄù As a team, Minnesota hit 7-of-15 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh never seemed to give up on shooting the three, but finished 4-for-20. âÄúI just told them that I felt like they were really rushed âĦ I used two timeouts to make that point,âÄù Pittsburgh head coach Agnus Berenato said. âÄúIt only takes one; it only takes a spark to get a fire going.âÄù But Pittsburgh never ignited that flame, and they made just one of seven attempts from the 3-point line in the second half. The Gophers got contributions from forwards Brianna Mastey and Kristen Dockery in the absence of the injured Katie Loberg. Mastey finished with 10 points and Dockery with eight, both career highs. Dockery, one of two seniors on the roster, has played a minimal role in her career due to injuries that required arthroscopic surgery on both her knees as a freshman. She had played in just 16 career games heading into Wednesday. But Minnesota relied on her heavily Wednesday, playing her 30 minutes and getting the start in place of Loberg. âÄúIt was incredible,âÄù Dockery said. âÄúI was waiting for that opportunity and my team needed me to step up today.âÄù With role players stepping up to make a big impact Wednesday, Borton is confident that in every given night, the team can rely on anybody to lead them. âÄúI think this is the ultimate team that we have here on both ends of the floor,âÄù Borton said. âÄúI think thatâÄôs a great sign of a very tight team and a great unit for us to be able to do that.âÄù The Gophers will host the Subway Classic over the weekend, facing Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday.