Gophers women’s basketball struggles in Fargo, recovers at home

Players achieve personal bests while splitting last weekend’s set of games.

Williams Arena as seen on Monday, June 17, 2019.

Tony Saunders

Williams Arena as seen on Monday, June 17, 2019.

by Alex Karwowski and Theo Franz

Nov. 17 vs. North Dakota State

The Gophers traveled to North Dakota to take on the North Dakota State University Bison.

Minnesota opened the game with a solid 10-4 lead. The Bison, however, were in control by the end of the first half, scoring the final seven points to put them up 28-27. Minnesota was scoreless in the final 2:30 of play.

Sophomore Maggie Czinano had a very strong first half and that continued in the second half; she scored five times in a row to cut the Bison’s lead to 37-36.

A fast break layup from Mallory Heyer assisted by Amaya Battle gave Minnesota the lead 38-37. The Bison scored six of the last seven points in the quarter to put themselves back in front 46-43 heading into the final 10 minutes.

Minnesota was down by eight in the fourth quarter, but that deficit wouldn’t stop their fight for victory. With 3:50 to go, Czinano and sophomore Alanna “Rose” Micheaux both had buckets, bringing the Gophers deficit to four.

Battle was able to bring the Gophers within one after three straight successful free throws. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the Bison scored six straight points to bring their lead to seven, and the Gophers were unable to come back.

The Gophers ultimately tasted defeat for the first time this season, 71-65

Czinano had a career-high of 13 points and seven rebounds, and Amaya Battle impressed with 15 points.

Nov. 20 vs. Presbyterian

Minnesota started out dominating against Presbyterian. The first quarter began with a pair of buckets by Micheaux and Heyer. This kick-started an impressive 20-0 run.

“I don’t want to say it was hard to keep our foot on the pedal,” Micheaux said. “The whole game we kept it there because this whole time we were trying to prove a point. We were trying to show everyone that the last game didn’t define us.”

Additionally, the Gophers’ defense was steadfast. They supported the lead by allowing just five points off of 19 shot attempts, which is good for the sixth-fewest points allowed in a single quarter in program history.

Presbyterian’s shots started to fall midway into the second quarter. They improved to 7-for-16 from the field and shot 50% from three. The brief performance put a minor dent in the Gophers’ lead, but Minnesota managed through it and continued their offensive momentum.

“We were moving around and taking better shots,” Heyer said. “In the North Dakota State game, we were taking a lot of rushed shots.”

Minnesota led Presbyterian 39-24 at the half with Micheaux and Heyer leading the team in points. The two forwards controlled the paint all game and were used heavily in transition, contributing to the team’s 12 offensive rebounds and 13 points off opponent turnovers. Both finished with double-doubles: Micheaux’s third of the season and Heyer’s first of her career.

“[Heyer] found a few different spots [on the court] after figuring it out the last three games,” head coach Lindsay Whalen said. “She is going to get four or six points just by running so hard.”

The third quarter opened up with Heyer finding Katie Borowicz behind the arch for three. Presbyterian responded with an 8-0 run with goals by Bryanna Brady and Sonia Sato. Whalen called for a timeout and the Gophers came back and replied with their own 8-0 run, negating Presbytarian’s rare positive offensive series and reinstating their intimidating defensive presence.

Their defense stayed consistent until the very end. Minnesota only gave up 16 points after the Presbyterian run while scoring 38 points themselves.

As the game got out of hand for Presbyterian, Whalen trickled in her young bench pieces, one of them being Plymouth native Maria Counts. Counts subbed in with under five minutes left but did not see her first points as a Gopher until the final seconds of the game.

Minnesota ended the day on top beating Presbyterian 82-48. The Gophers will travel to the east coast to face the undefeated Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday at 1 p.m. The last time they played in Virginia was in 2003 when Whalen was the starting guard.