Gophers Knock Off Nebraska In B1G Opener, 72-69
MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota (12-1, 1-0) women’s basketball team rallied back from 17 points down in the second half to defeat No. 12/14 Nebraska (10-2, 0-0), 72-69, in its Big Ten opener at Williams Arena Monday night.
The 17-point comeback was the largest for the Golden Gophers since rallying from 20 points down vs. Creighton on Dec. 30, 2012 at the Barn in double overtime. The team’s 12-1 record is also the best for Minnesota since the 2003-04 season.
Shayne Mullaney tied her career-high with 18 points and dished out a team-high six assists, while Amanda Zahui B. recorded her ninth double-double of the season with a team-best 20 points and 15 rebounds to go along with four blocks. Also scoring in double figures were Kayla Hirt and Carlie Wagner, who posted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
After falling down by as many as 17 points in the second half, the Gophers put together a 20-4 run to pull within one point of the Huskers, 61-60, with 4:28 to play in the contest. A scoop layup from Mullaney with 33 seconds on the clock capped off a 28-10 run and gave Minnesota its first lead of the game, 68-67. The Gophers extended their lead to three points on two free throws from Kelley, but a Husker basket made it a one-point game with eight seconds to play.
Zahui B. was fouled on the inbound and nailed two free throws for the Gophers extending their lead to three with six seconds left in the game. Nebraska, in a last ditch effort to push the game into overtime, put up a last-minute shot that was blocked by Zahui B. to seal the conference victory for the Maroon and Gold.
Minnesota shot .417 (15-36) from the floor and connected on 14 of its 17 (.814) free throw attempts in the second half, while holding Nebraska without a field goal for 4:27. The Gophers also took care of the ball in the second half, as they did not turn the ball over once in the final 20 minutes of play.
The Gophers had a hard time getting the ball to fall early on in the contest and fell behind by 10 points, 12-2, seven minutes into the first half. Mullaney pulled the Maroon and Gold to within five points of the visiting Huskers, 16-11, with seven-straight points.
Minnesota would fall down by 11 at 5:51, but the Gophers once again closed the gap to five points, 29-24, on three-pointers from Jacobs and Hirt and another basket from Mullaney at 3:44. The Huskers would close out the half on a 10-2 run to make the score 39-26 at halftime.
Mullaney accounted for 12 of Minnesota’s 26 first-half points on 5-for-7 shooting, marking the most points for the junior this season through just 20 minutes of play. Zahui added four points and seven rebounds and Hirt contributed five points and three rebounds. Kelley missed a majority of the first half with foul trouble, picking up her second foul at 10:34 into the stanza.
Minnesota will travel to Purdue on Thursday to take on the Boilermakers in its second conference game of the season. Tip off is schedule for 1 p.m. CT and the game will be streamed on BTN Plus.