Women’s basketball face roster uncertainty ahead of season opener

Gophers women’s basketball will be missing multiple student-athletes for its season-opening game against Eastern Illinois on Wednesday.

Gophers+Forward+Jasmine+Powell+approaches+defenders+in+Williams+Arena+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+10.+The+Gophers+suffered+a+defeat+against+Michigan+52-77.

Liam Armstrong

Gophers Forward Jasmine Powell approaches defenders in Williams Arena on Sunday, Feb. 10. The Gophers suffered a defeat against Michigan 52-77.

Tony Liebert, Sports Reporter

The Gophers’ women’s basketball roster is already being hit with injuries and COVID-19 ahead of their matchup with Eastern Illinois Wednesday.

Similar to the Gophers’ football team, the women’s basketball team has opted not to specify what is keeping players out of the lineup due to privacy concerns.

Due to the unspecific designation, all we know is that sophomore guard Sara Scalia, five-star freshman Alexia Smith, transfer post player Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, and freshman guard Caroline Strande are all set to be out for Wednesday’s season opener due to injury or illness.

Scalia and Bagwell-Katalinich were both expected to be starters for head coach Lindsay Whalen this season. Scalia was the third-highest returning scorer for the Gophers and Bagwell-Katalinich averaged 13.4 points and 7.0 rebounds last season at Cornell.

Whalen’s starting lineup for Wednesday is expected to include sophomore Jasmine Powell, redshirt-senior Gadiva Hubbard and redshirt-sophomore Kadi Sissoko, who has not played since the 2018-19 season. They will lean on freshman Erin Hedman and either redshirt-freshman Grace Cumming or sophomore Klarke Sconiers as the remaining starters.

The only reserves available will be redshirt-freshman forward Justice Ross and either Cumming or Sconiers.

The Gophers have also reportedly decided to apply for a waiver for Kayla Mershon, a 6-foot-3 center transfer from Nebraska. With serious uncertainty day-by-day, another body would go a long way, especially one with two years of Big Ten playing experience.

Minnesota is set to tip off against Eastern Illinois Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in Williams Arena.