Gophers women’s basketball completes season sweep of Wisconsin

Minnesota came out on top of a hard-fought game that saw 32 total fouls and 34 total turnovers.

The+Gophers+Women%27s+Basketball+Team+plays+their+second+consecutive+Play4Kay+game+with+pink+uniforms+in+Williams+Arena+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+14.++The+Gophers+beat+the+Wisconsin+Badgers+68-63.

Emily Pofahl

The Gophers Women’s Basketball Team plays their second consecutive Play4Kay game with pink uniforms in Williams Arena on Sunday, Feb. 14. The Gophers beat the Wisconsin Badgers 68-63.

Tony Liebert

On a day with frigid temperatures outside, the Gopher women’s basketball team was able to warm up the Barn, taking down Wisconsin 68-63 to move to 7-9 on the season.

A Sunday afternoon tip-off presented the Golden Gophers with an opportunity to earn their fifth win in their last seven games as they welcomed Wisconsin to Williams Arena. Minnesota would don its pink uniforms once again in its second consecutive Play4Kay pink game.

An earlier matchup between the bitter rivals saw Minnesota leave Madison, Wisconsin with an 88-80 victory. Since the Jan. 3 contest, both teams find themselves in very different positions. The Badgers have dropped nine of their last 11 games, while the Gophers are playing their best basketball of the season.

The Gophers began Sunday’s game with great energy on both ends of the floor, jumping out to a 12-4 lead. Six turnovers in the first quarter limited the Badgers’ ability to cut into the Gophers’ lead, while Jasmine Powell’s six points and three assists in the quarter helped Minnesota take advantage, resulting in an 18-10 lead.

Minnesota’s defense continued to give the Badgers trouble in the second quarter, forcing six more turnovers. It was not the same story for the Gophers’ offense, as a lead that was as high as 10 fell all the way down to two due to six turnovers of their own. Two big threes from Sara Scalia helped the Gophers hang onto a 32-28 lead after a relatively sloppy second quarter.

Redshirt sophomore Kadi Sissoko had quite a polarizing performance Sunday, and the third quarter was no different. The 6-foot-2 forward struggled in the second quarter with three turnovers and two fouls, but also had six points, four rebounds and two steals. She turned around and recorded seven points and two more rebounds in the third quarter, bringing her total to 18 and seven in only 20 minutes of play through the first three quarters.

“For the last few games, she’s been tremendous,” Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen said. “She has been working at her game all season, and now she’s playing with a ton of confidence.”

Five offensive rebounds and seven second-chance points in the quarter helped the Gophers take advantage of Sissoko’s performance, carrying a 50-41 lead into the final quarter of play.

Sissoko picked up her fourth foul less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, leading to an extended stay on the bench. The Gophers’ offense was able to manage without her, as Scalia and Powell made big plays when the team needed them most. After a late comeback from the Badgers, Minnesota survived 68-63.

“I think as a team, coming together and having plenty of practice now, we’ve been able to grind through a few things,” Whalen said. “On the tough nights, when we let a team go on a run, we learned from those things.”

It was the usual suspects for the Gophers, as Sissoko, Scalia and Powell combined for 52 of the team’s 68 points. The Gophers were able to overcome serious foul trouble, and 15 turnovers to come out with their fifth win in the last seven games.

“This was huge for us to get a couple wins before we go back on the road,” Whalen said. “There is not a question that is going to be a fight to the finish.”

Next for the Gophers is a Feb. 17 matchup in Piscataway, New Jersey against Rutgers.