Minnesota ended a conference losing streak in Ann Arbor, defeating the Wolverines 82-66. The Gophers improve to 2-2 in conference play and 12-3 on the season. Mallory Heyer led all scorers with 21 points.
The Gophers started the game on fire, making their first six shots. That hot shooting was also reflected in the final numbers. Minnesota was 15-28 from behind the arc. Heyer was 6-9 from distance and added five rebounds and two assists to the stat line. Grace Grocholski and Mara Braun combined to go 9-18 from distance. Under Coach Plitzuweit, shooters have the freedom to take early shots in a possession. When shooters are clicking, it results in wins like we saw yesterday. When they are not clicking, it results in the UCONN game. As the team develops in January and February, a key will be to see if there are more games in the first category rather than the second category.
Michigan made the game interesting the third quarter, winning the frame 19-12 and taking a one point lead into the fourth quarter. While not the reason for the win, Minnesota was greatly aided by an untimely injury for the Wolverines, which hindered their post presence and offense. In the fourth, partially due to mismatches, the Gophers unleashed a 29 point performance while holding Michigan to just 12 points. I am less certain that kind of defense is sustainable going forward against the top squads in the conference, but it was good to see a team that struggled in the third quarter last season have a similar issue and bring the game back for a win.
Interesting facts from the post game notes
Yesterday was the first win in Ann Arbor since 2014.
Yesterday was the first time since 2018 that the Gophers had less than 10 turnovers against the Wolverines.
Mara Braun played all 40 minutes, a stat that I suspect will happen semi-frequently the rest of the season.
The Gophers return to Williams Arena to play Nebraska on Sunday, January 14th.