Gophers complete fourth-quarter comeback to beat Montana State 71-60

Minnesota outscored the Bobcats 24-10 in the final quarter of play.

Guard Jasmine Powell dribbles the ball through defenders at Williams Arena on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Gophers went on to defeat Montana State 71-60.

Liam Armstrong

Guard Jasmine Powell dribbles the ball through defenders at Williams Arena on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Gophers went on to defeat Montana State 71-60.

Brendan O'Brien

After trailing throughout the majority of the game, the Minnesota women’s basketball team came back in the fourth quarter to beat the Montana State Bobcats 71-60 Saturday. 

The win was by no means easy for the Gophers. Head coach Lindsay Whalen was forced to call a timeout four minutes into the third quarter following a 11-2 Bobcats run that extended their lead to 12. After the timeout, the Gophers were able to adjust and had big performances from freshman guard Jasmine Powell and junior forward Destiny Pitts.

“It just came to that point for us where it was kind of now or never and [Pitts and Powell] really led the way in the aspect on both ends of the floor,” Whalen said. 

One of the adjustments the Gophers needed to make in the second half was improving their free throw shooting. Minnesota shot 56 percent from the line in the first half but were able to connect on 88 percent of their free throws in the second half as they began to pull away from Montana State.

Minnesota also struggled at stopping Montana State’s 3-point attack early in the game. Coming into the game, the Bobcats were shooting nearly 43 percent from behind the arc and shot 53 percent from three in the first half of Saturday’s game. Bobcats guard Oliana Squires had 14 points in the first half and connected four times from behind the arc.

But just like the free throw shooting, the Gophers adjusted well, having Powell play on-ball defense to pressure Squires and other Montana State guards. The adjustment paid off, as the Bobcats missed all eight of the three-point attempts, and Squires did not score again in the second half.

“Her on-ball defense and full-court pressure was great,” Pitts said of Powell. “I think that really turned up the tempo for the rest of the game and got all of us going on the defensive end, because if you see somebody playing that hard on defense on the ball, it’s going to pick everybody else’s intensity up.”

Pitts led all players with 26 points. Powell once again was a spark plug for the team off the bench, adding 14 points and three assists.

“It just shows a lot of fight in our team and how well-connected we can be,” Pitts said. “We just got to play altogether for four quarters. … It shows how good our team can be when we play connected and together.” 

After the comeback victory, Minnesota sits at 4-1 on the season and will host Bryant on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.