Gophers take down Sun Devils with strong defense and balanced offense

Destiny Pitts finished with 22 points to lead all scorers.

Guard Gadiva Hubbard reaches to grab the ball during the game against Arizona State at Williams Arena on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. The Gophers defeated the Sun Devils 80-66.

Jasmin Kemp

Guard Gadiva Hubbard reaches to grab the ball during the game against Arizona State at Williams Arena on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. The Gophers defeated the Sun Devils 80-66.

Brendan O'Brien

Led by junior forward Destiny Pitts and redshirt junior guard Gadiva Hubbard, the Gophers beat No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils in impressive fashion 80-66 at Williams Arena on Sunday.

After struggling in the beginning of previous games, the Gophers took an early lead after a layup by senior forward Taiye Bello in the first minute of the game and never looked back, playing with the lead throughout the whole game. Head coach Lindsay Whalen said it was important for the Gophers to start off strong against a team like Arizona State.

“We knew that if we came out there right off the bat [and] let them know we were ready to play, that good things would happen for us,” Whalen said. “It’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to go out there and do it, and these guys went out there and did it.” 

Coming into the game, Arizona State had little trouble scoring points, finishing with at least 83 points in each game and averaging 23 points in the first quarter of games. However, the Gophers came out with a stifling zone defense, holding the Sun Devils to only nine points in the first quarter. 

“We knew one of the things they liked to do was press and deny and ball-pressure all over the place,” Whalen said. “We thought we could attack pressure with pressure and these guys went out there and did it. … It was probably one of the best communication games we’ve had since I’ve been here, just tremendous from the opening tip.”

Later in the game, Arizona State was able to find some rhythm offensively and outscored the Gophers 23-17 in the second quarter. After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, the Sun Devils cut the Gophers’ lead to five at the end of the first half. Despite the comeback, the Gophers came out strong in the second half to secure the victory.

Minnesota had success pushing the pace throughout the game, scoring 24 fast-break points. In addition, the Gophers were aggressive in the paint, outscoring the Sun Devils 38-28 inside.

The Gophers again had a balanced offensive attack, as this was the third consecutive game with at least three double-digit scorers. Pitts led all players with 22 points and seven assists while Hubbard added 20 points. Senior guard Jasmine Brunson also had a strong performance, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds and six assists.

The Gophers improve to 3-1 on the season with the win over Arizona State. Minnesota will be back in action Saturday, Nov. 23 against Montana State at Williams Arena.