Gophers take home sixth place in first-ever women’s Battle 4 Atlantis

 After suffering an opening-round loss to No. 2 UConn, Minnesota defeated Syracuse fell short against Oklahoma, taking home sixth place at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Guard Sara Scalia drives towards the hoop at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The Gophers were defeated by Wisconsin 72-62.

Emily Urfer

Guard Sara Scalia drives towards the hoop at Williams Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. The Gophers were defeated by Wisconsin 72-62.

by Tony Liebert, Sports Reporter

 

The Gophers traveled to Paradise Island, Bahamas for the first-ever women’s Battle 4 Atlantis, competing in a loaded field. After an opening-round loss, they won one game and lost another taking home sixth place.

Saturday, Nov. 20: Gophers fall to No. 2 UConn 88-58 in first-round matchup

It was a true David v. Goliath matchup when the Gophers were matched up with No. 2 UConn in their opening-round contest.

Minnesota seemed out-classed early, falling down 10-0 in the blink of an eye. Senior Huskies’ guard Christyn Williams had 10 points in the first quarter, but the Gophers were able to settle in trailing by only six points heading into the second quarter.

Five first-half three-pointers from Gophers junior guard Sara Scalia brought her team as close as one point behind the daunting Huskies, but Minnesota tripped up late, trailing 47-35 heading into the halftime break.

The Gophers struggled to start the second half, failing to score until about midway through the third quarter. UConn took advantage, outscoring the Maroon & Gold 25-8 in the quarter.

11-24 (45.8%) three-point shooting from the Gophers was not enough, as UConn proved to be too much to handle coming out on top 88-58, thanks to 31 points on 12-14 shooting from Christyn Williams. Scalia led Minnesota with 17 points.

“We’re honored to be here and compete with a team, a program like UConn,” said Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen. “I thought there were moments where we hung in and played tough.”

Sunday, Nov. 21: Kadi Sissoko’s big day leads Gophers over her former team Syracuse 70-63

After Syracuse suffered an opening round defeat to South Florida, it was matched up with the Gophers in the next round of the consolation bracket.

Minnesota opted to deploy a different starting lineup for the first time this season. NC A&T transfer guard Deja Winters replaced Gadiva Hubbard in the Gophers’ lineup for the first time this season.

The change paid off for the Gophers, jumping out to a 17-14 lead after the end of the first quarter. After recording 10 total turnovers in the first half, Minnesota trailed 31-29 heading into halftime.

A back and forth contest continued into the second half resulting in 10 different lead changes and three ties. A big third quarter from redshirt junior forward Kadi Sissoko and Winters helped the Gophers take an eight-point lead heading into the final quarter.

After transferring from Syracuse following the 2018-19 season, Sissoko performed very well against her former team. Her game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds put Minnesota on top 70-63. Sara Scalia and Deja Winters added 17 and 16 points respectively.

“Obviously, it was a weird feeling to play against Syracuse, but I was just trying to focus on my game, stick to the game plan and have fun with my teammates on the court,” said Sissoko

Monday, Nov. 22: Gophers lose 88-69 in final round against Oklahoma

Every team competing in the Battle 4 Atlantis was guaranteed at least three games, and the Gophers’ third and final game came against Oklahoma for fifth place honors.

Graduate student guard Deja Winters started for the second consecutive day and took advantage of the opportunity. After she recorded only two points in the first quarter the Gophers dug themselves a massive 27-14 hole on the scoreboard.

Minnesota responded in the second quarter, outscoring the Sooners 16-14 led by a team-high seven points from Winters, but the Gophers still trailed by 11.

Coming out of the halftime break, Minnesota played well tying up Oklahoma in the third quarter, but the deficit was ultimately too much to pull itself out of.

A team-high 18 points from both Jasmine Powell and Deja Winters was not enough, and the Gophers fell 88-69 earning sixth place at the competition.

The Gophers now move to 4-3 on the season and will host Bradley at Williams Arena this Friday at 3:00 p.m. in hopes of getting back on track.