Gophers split against Duke and Towson

The team finished a four-game road trip Thursday with a 84-64 loss facing Duke.

Minnesota guard Carlie Wagner drives the ball down the court at Williams Arena where the Gophers defeated the Towson Tigers 105-86. Wagner was one of three Gophers to earn a double-double by the game's end.

Sam Harper

Minnesota guard Carlie Wagner drives the ball down the court at Williams Arena where the Gophers defeated the Towson Tigers 105-86. Wagner was one of three Gophers to earn a double-double by the game’s end.

Kaitlin Merkel

The Gophers women’s basketball team bounced back from an 84-64 loss on the road to No. 14 Duke Friday night to beat Towson University 105-86 at Williams Arena on Sunday.
 
Minnesota (5-2) shot 40.3 percent from the field Friday while the Blue Devils shot 50 percent. Duke outscored the Gophers in three of four quarters, and had a nine-point lead after the first.
 
“It was just an off night for us,” Minnesota head coach Marlene Stollings said. “All in all we got the looks [at the basket] that we wanted. They just weren’t falling tonight for us.”
 
Gophers sophomore guard Carlie Wagner and redshirt senior guard Rachel Banham scored 44 of the team’s 64 points, recording 23 and 21 points, respectively. No other player on the team scored in double digits.
 
 Minnesota, which averaged 39.3 percent shooting from the three-point line prior to the game, also struggled from the long range and shot just 5-25 on threes.
 
Stollings said Duke tipped the game in its favor with efficient rebounding. Minnesota was outrebounded by Duke 44-30. The Gophers had averaged 46.8 rebounds per game prior to Friday, despite mainly playing a four-guard lineup.
 
“[Duke has] a lot of size. They really hurt us inside and in the paint,” Stollings said. “One of our keys to the game was that we had to get in there and rebound at a very
efficient level. While we battled at times, we certainly didn’t do it for the entire game, and it really hurt us on the boards.” 
 
Banham said the game was frustrating, especially because the Gophers have focused on rebounding early this season.“A lot of times I keep saying that it’s the controllables that we’re not doing,” 
 
Banham said. “[It’s] the defensive coverages here and there, but the main thing right now is our rebounding.”
 
The Gophers offense started out slow again Sunday night, and the team trailed the entire first quarter after shooting 6-23 on field goals and 3-11 from the long range.
 
“We just had to keep shooting. We knew that we would eventually start making those shots; usually we do,” senior guard Shayne Mullaney said. “We just had to keep shooting them, and eventually they would fall.”
 
Minnesota took the lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 29-26 to enter halftime with a two-point lead.
 
All of the Gophers points in the first half came from players listed as guards, with junior Joanna Hedstrom playing in the frontcourt for the majority of her 33 minutes.
The Gophers outscored the Tigers 34-20 in the fourth quarter to pull away and seal the victory.
 
Mullaney, Banham and Wagner all finished with double-doubles on Sunday.
 
Mullaney recorded a career-high 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Wagner and Banham both had 10 rebounds and added 27 points and 24 points, respectively. 
 
The Gophers allowed the Tigers to shoot 40 percent from the three-point line in the game, and Towson made eight threes in the first half.
 
“Every timeout we were talking about defending the three,” Banham said. “We just have to be more active with our hands. We can get more deflections and steals, so it’s something that coach was consistently telling us throughout the game.”