The Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team played an early 11 AM matinee on Wednesday as a field trip day for local school children. They gave them the show they came to see as the Gopher scored early and often exploding for 96 points in a 96-64 win over Grambling. The Gophers are now 10-1 on the season headed into the eight day finals break before they play their final non-conference game of the season against Lindenwood on December 23rd.
Mara Braun kicked off the scoring with her first of six three pointers on the day putting Minnesota up 3-0. The Gophers would trail Grambling 6-5 a few minutes later, but it would be the final time they trailed all game long. Minnesota went on an 8-0 run with five points from freshman Grace Grocholski and a trey from Mallory Heyer to take a 13-6 run. Grambling would cut the lead to as close as two later in the quarter but the Gophers ended the period with points off of their bench from Niamya Holloway and Janay Sanders to take a 25-19 lead after the opening ten minutes.
The second quarter was more of the first for the Gophers. Minnesota expanded their lead and pushed it as high as 16 points late in the quarter behind 55.6% shooting in the quarter. Braun added a pair of free throws and a pair of there-pointers to finish the half with 17. Minnesota matched their 4-9 performance from behind the arc in the first quarter with Grocholski adding a pair as well.
The Gopher defensive performance was not as crisp as it’s likely coach Dawn Plitzuweit would like. Grambling shot 60.9% from the first in the first half as they tried to keep pace with Minnesota. But the Gophers controlled the boards and earned a ton more second chance points. The Gophers put up 37 shots in the opening half to Grambling’s 23, and took advantage to have a 53-38 halftime lead.
Unlike the Gophers last game against Purdue, they put the pedal to the medal in the 3rd quarter and did not give the Tigers a chance to get back into the game. Braun would hit back to back to back three pointers in the quarter to put Minnesota up 21 at 66-45 and they kept the pressure on. Grambling finally cooled down/ the Gopher defense stepped up and when they didn’t score for nearly five minutes at the end of the quarter the Gopher bench players took advantage going on a 12-0 run led by Holloway, Maggie Cinzano and Ayana Johnson. Minnesota led 80-53 after three quarters and got to keep their starters on the bench for the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was much of the same with Minnesota’s bench players getting great experience. Cinzano would end with a season high 10 points and join Braun, Grocholoski and Heyer in double figures. Amaya Battle would finish with 10 assists tying her career high set against Wisconsin last season. She also forced four steals. Minnesota as a team ruled the boards outrebounding Grambling 45-27 including an impressive 22-9 edge on the offensive boards. That led to the Gophers outscoring the Tigers 27- 4 in second change points for the game. All eleven Gophers who saw time in the game scored at least one point.
Minnesota—and all Gophers sports are off until they host Lindenwood in their final non-conference game at 3PM on December 23rd as part of a women’s/men’s basketball doubleheader. The Gopher men will host Ball State that evening at 7 PM.