Balanced attack against American gives Gophers third consecutive win 73-56

In their fourth game in only eight days to start the season, Minnesota defeated American 73-56.


Shannon Doyle

Gophers forward Kadi Sissoko blocks Eastern Illinois’ Karle Pace at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The Gophers defeated Eastern Illinois 72-68.

by Tony Liebert, Sports Reporter

The Golden Gophers welcomed American University to Williams Arena Wednesday, coming out on top 73-56, moving to 3-1 on the season.

Much like Minnesota, American entered Wednesday’s contest with a two-game win streak and a 2-1 record on the season. The Eagles were voted to finish fourth in the Patriot League this season.

It was a slow start for the Gophers out of the locker room, falling down 4-8 quickly. They turned it on to close the quarter, going on a 17-4 run, they led 21-12 after 10 minutes of play. Jasmine Powell led the way with five points and four assists, with seven different players scoring.

Head coach Lindsay Whalen opted to play 11 different players in the first quarter, giving her team plenty of rest for the remainder of the game.

“I think it’s a factor in how we were able to have the third quarter we had. I think we were able to break it up, get open a little bit, and I think our depth is significant,” Whalen said. “Laura, Rose, Deja — I thought those guys gave some really good minutes.”

It took until nearly midway through the second quarter for leading-scorer Sara Scalia (17.3 PPG) to attempt her first shot of the game, let alone score one. Her made three on her first attempt was all she could find, shooting 1-4 from the field in the first half.

Minnesota was able to find success without Scalia, leaving the first half with a 35-28 lead. Powell led the team with eight points, four rebounds and four assists. As a team, the Gophers’ 11 more shot attempts in the half helped them carry a lead into the locker room.

It was all Kadi Sissoko in the third quarter for the Gophers. Donning an all-black face mask due to a recent facial injury, the redshirt-junior forward added six points in the quarter, which led all players. Minnesota extended its lead by six, pulling ahead 54-41 going into the final 10 minutes.

“It was very weird, but I was actually fine. I went to shoot around with it [the mask] to get used to it,” Sissoko said.

Sissoko carried her momentum into the final quarter of play. Seven more points brought her game total to a team-high 17. The Gophers balanced attack continued to find success wearing down American more and more every quarter. A 19-point final quarter gave Minnesota a 73-56 victory.

“American is a tough team, they’re very well-coached,” coach Whalen said. “They put you in different situations, that if you’re not on it and crisp, next thing you know they have a layup. Give our guys credit for responding, especially after the first few possessions.”

The Gophers balanced approach led to a 34-26 difference in the rebounding total and 22 more attempted shots than their opposition.

Kadi Sissoko’s team-high 17 points paired with Jasmine Powell’s 12 gave the duo 26% of the Gophers’ scoring. Powell led the team with six rebounds and eight assists.

The Gophers will now travel to Paradise Island, Bahamas to compete in the first-ever women’s Battle 4 Atlantis competition. In the first round on Saturday, Minnesota will take on No. 2 ranked UConn, and Hopkins, Minn. native guard Paige Bueckers at 11:00 a.m. (CST).