Gophers outlast Rutgers in double overtime battle

Minnesota’s Taiye Bello finished with her 11th double-double of the season.

Guard Jasmine Brunson brings the ball up the court at Williams Arena on Sunday, Feb. 2. The Gophers won in overtime 73-71. (Parker Johnson / Minnesota Daily)

Parker Johnson

Guard Jasmine Brunson brings the ball up the court at Williams Arena on Sunday, Feb. 2. The Gophers won in overtime 73-71. (Parker Johnson / Minnesota Daily)

Brendan O'Brien

In a wild, double-overtime battle, the Minnesota women’s basketball team beat Rutgers 73-71 at Williams Arena Sunday afternoon. 

One of the determining factors in the Gophers’ win was their clutch free throw shooting. Minnesota was the best free-throw shooting team in the Big Ten coming into the matchup and finished 30-39 from the charity stripe. All 12 of Minnesota’s points in the second overtime came from the free throw line.

Two free throws that mattered the most came from senior forward Taiye Bello. Bello caught a deep pass from freshman guard Sara Scalia and was fouled while shooting with about three seconds left in regulation. Bello drained the free throws to tie the game at 57 and force overtime.

Bello’s overall performance in Sunday’s matinee was quite memorable, playing 46 minutes and finished with her eleventh double-double of the season. She had 19 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks. Fifteen of her points came from the free throw line. 

“[Bello] willed us to win. She just willed us to win,” head coach Lindsay Whalen. “She played like an All-American tonight.”

Rutgers’ defense proved to be stout early on. The Scarlet Knights forced the Gophers into 26 turnovers, a season-high for Minnesota. Rutgers turned those 26 turnovers into 29 points, but it was not enough in the end to pull out the win. Minnesota’s defense also played well, holding the Scarlet Knights to only 57 points in regulation when they had averaged 68.2 points per game leading into the contest.

Redshirt junior guard Gadiva Hubbard scored six points through three quarters of play but began to shoot well in the fourth. Hubbard hit three clutch 3-point shots as the Gophers continued to stay with the Scarlet Knights. She finished with 17 points.

The Gophers were able to pull out the victory without senior guard Jasmine Brunson during the second half and both overtimes. Brunson was on the bench briefly for the Gophers but went back into the locker room. After the game, Whalen acknowledged that Brunson was injured but did not go into much detail about the injury.

With Brunson out, freshman guard Jasmine Powell stepped up as the Gophers’ main floor general. Powell’s poise and endurance was key as she played 47 minutes and finished with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists. She was also 10-10 from the free throw line.

The last time Minnesota played a game that went into double overtime was February of 2016 in a 112-106 win against Northwestern. 

Until Sunday, Minnesota had not won back-to-back games since Dec. 28, 2019, part of its 11-game winning streak. 

The Gophers are back in action Thursday on the road in Wisconsin.