Gophers fall to Rutgers in team’s last game of the month

Minnesota outplayed Rutgers through three quarters, but then lost sight of the finish line in the fourth.

Sophomore Destiny Pitts runs through defenders toward the hoop during the game against Purdue on Thursday, Jan. 24.

Image by Tony Saunders

Sophomore Destiny Pitts runs through defenders toward the hoop during the game against Purdue on Thursday, Jan. 24.

by Babatunde Jinadu

Kenisha Bell and the Gophers women’s basketball team were in New Jersey on Thursday to play the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

It was Minnesota’s first game following a two-point loss to No. 8 Maryland last Thursday. Minnesota outplayed Maryland for most of the game last week before being outscored 23-10 in the fourth quarter. On Thursday, the story was all too familiar.

Rutgers got the 60-54 victory after trailing for much of the game. The last time Rutgers faced Minnesota, the Gophers triumphed in a 60-46 home victory.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing because we shouldn’t have lost that game. We felt like we shouldn’t have lost, we just made a lot of mistakes in the second half,” said junior Jasmine Brunson.

Five minutes in, Destiny Pitts launched a deep 3-pointer to tie the game at eight points apiece.

Minnesota pushed the tempo offensively, while Rutgers used a full court press on defense. After 10 minutes, the score was 15 to 12 in Minnesota’s favor.

Turnovers by the Minnesota squad allowed Rutgers to steal the momentum at the start of the second quarter, but Pitts had an answer. Back-to-back 3-pointers from the sophomore put Minnesota up 23-16 at the 5:42 mark.

“I felt pretty good, my teammates were finding me a lot so I was thankful that they were finding me and I was in a rhythm,” Pitts said.

Rutgers called a timeout to cool Pitts’ hot hand, but immediately out of the timeout Pitts buried another long 3-pointer. Pitts single-handedly outscored the Scarlet Knights in the second quarter, and Minnesota claimed a 30-25 advantage at halftime.

Three minutes into the third quarter, another Destiny Pitts 3-pointer gave Minnesota a nine-point lead. Later on, Rutgers came back to make it a one point game. Minnesota had to settle down, and Pitts responded with yet another 3-pointer. At the end of the third quarter, the score was 42-38 for the Gophers.

But the end of the third quarter marked the end of Minnesota’s success.

With 7:09 left in the fourth quarter, Rutgers took the lead. Through the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, Rutgers made a 12-4 run.

Minnesota had 20 turnovers on the night, including five in the fourth quarter.

With about a minute left in the game, Rutgers Arella Guirantes made a difficult two-point shot to put the Scarlet Knights ahead 54-48. Gophers junior Taiye Bello had a chance to score two points from the free throw line, but she missed both shots.

The Gophers finish competition in the month of February with a 5-2 record. On Sunday they will cap off their regular season with a home game versus the Michigan State Spartans (19-9) at 3:00 p.m.

“We just need to move onto the next game, and I think we’ll do really well, especially being senior night and playing back in front of our fans. We’re just trying to gain some momentum going into the Big Ten tournament,” Pitts said.