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Gophers struggle to find offensive rhythm in 79-61 loss to Rutgers.

Minnesota dug itself a hole in the second quarter and struggled to get out of it, while shooting 29.6% as a team.
Image by Ethan Fine
Guard Deja Winters looks to pass the ball during the Gophers’ game against Wisconsin at Williams Arena, Jan. 30. The Gophers beat the Badgers, 57-55.

The Gophers’ offense struggled all night against the Big Ten’s last-place team Rutgers, falling 79-61. A sub-30% night from the field was simply too much to overcome.

Fresh off a 74-68 victory over Northwestern, the Gophers faced an opportunity against Rutgers to pick up a second consecutive victory, something they haven’t done since Nov. 26 and 28.

Against the Scarlet Knights, Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen opted to deploy the same starting lineup for the fourth consecutive game.

Points were scarce in quarter number one. Both teams combined to shoot 10-29 (34%) from the field, but a late flurry from Minnesota, led by a pair of Deja Winters’ threes, resulted in a 15-12 lead after 10 minutes.

The second quarter continued to be a struggle offensively, but this time it was only for the Gophers. With Minnesota shooting 2-14 (14.3%) from the field, Rutgers took advantage and closed the quarter on a 14-0 run and took a 33-22 lead into halftime.

Minnesota season-long rebounding struggles were a theme in the first half, trailing 25-14 in that category. Its 7-29 shooting (24.1%) was ultimately what resulted in the double-digit deficit.

The third quarter was much of the same story, as the Gophers offense struggled to find consistency. With only four points scored off the bench, the vast difference in rebounding margin helped Rutgers extend its lead to 55-40.

Rutgers continued to take advantage of Minnesota’s weakness in the post in the fourth quarter. A 44-28 difference in rebounding and 28-8 difference in points scored in the paint would tell the story of the Gophers’ 79-61 loss.

Sara Scalia and Deja Winters were the only two Minnesota players to find any consistent success on the offensive end, scoring 35 of its 61 points.

It is a tall task for any team in the country to pull out a win while shooting 29.6% and the Gophers have just two days to regroup before their next game.

Minnesota will face a tough conference opponent on Sunday, playing host to top-10 nationally ranked Maryland at 2:00 p.m.

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