The Tenth seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team overcame a horrific second quarter to come back and defeat the seventh seeded Green Bay Phoenix 89-77 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers will now play the second seeded Oregon Ducks on their home court on Sunday at 9:30 PM central.
The Gophers got off to a good start in the first quarter. Minnesota found its range from behind the arc as Gadiva Hubbard and Destiny Pitts combined for 17 of the Gophers 22 first quarter points. Hubbard hit two three pointers early and Pitts was three for three from behind the arc in the quarter to push the Gophers ahead 22-17 early.
The second quarter is where the Gophers nearly lost the game. Minnesota went cold and could not buy a basket. Minnesota went just 4-16 in the second quarter. Green Bay found their stroke and jumped on the Gophers early and often. They used an 8-0 run to take the lead, and would push it to ten points at 42-32 at the half. The Phoenix outscored the Gophers 25-10 in the second quarter.
The Phoenix would go up as much at 13 points in the third quarter, but Minnesota began to claw their way back. Minnesota would end the quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to just five points 64-59 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was dominated by the Gophers. Minnesota used a 7-0 run and grew it into a 19-4 run to turn a 12-point deficit into a three-point lead. Green Bay would take their last lead of the game at 72-71, but Pitts answered the Phoenix’s go-ahead 3-pointer with one of her own. Minnesota would finish the game on another 11-0 run to outscore the Phoenix 30-13 in the fourth quarter. Kenisha Bell would score thirteen of her game high 26 in the fourth quarter, Minnesota would go 22-23 from the free throw line in the second half to ice the game.
Pitts added 20 points for Minnesota, Hubbard had 16, Carlie Wagner had 15 and Jessie Edwards added 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. The Gophers 89 points were a whopping 43 points higher than the average that the Phoenix game up per game this season. Minnesota was 10-18 from behind the arc in the game, which set team NCAA Tournament records for both three pointers made and attempted.
The Gophers will now play #2 seed Oregon who defeated #15 seed Seattle Redhawks 88-45. The Ducks won both the Pac-12 regular season and tournament championships this season. They have only one loss on their home court to then #24 ranked Stanford Cardinal. Their other three losses this season are all to highly ranked foes in Oregon State Beavers, Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Louisville Cardinals. They are led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu.
The Gophers and Ducks will tip off at 9:30 PM Central Sunday Night on ESPN 2.