WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. – The Gophers women’s basketball team cured its Big Ten woes with balanced scoring and stellar defense Sunday.
The Gophers held Purdue to 36.1% shooting and forced 20 turnovers in a 72-59 victory at Mackey Arena that ended a five-game losing streak.
Minnesota, which had lost four one-possession games during its losing streak, left little doubt this time thanks to a 19-0 run in a 4:13 span of the second half.
“We’ve worked very hard to get where we are right now, and we didn’t want another one-possession game where we lost,” junior guard Gadiva Hubbard said. “We dug in in the fourth quarter to get that win.”
The Gophers started and ended strong, jumping to a 16-4 lead before the Boilermakers used a 12-0 run to tie the score by the end of the first quarter.
With the score tied 43-43, the Gophers went on an 11-0 run to end the third quarter and carried that momentum to the finish.
It was a welcome relief after squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter to Iowa on Thursday.
“I’ve been a part of some seasons where those games don’t go your way,” coach Lindsay Whalen said. “You just have to keep battling and keep trusting that it is going to pay off for you in the end and you are going to turn around and win some of those games.”
The Gophers (12-6, 2-5 Big Ten), whose leading scorer Destiny Pitts announced Thursday that she is transferring following a team-issued suspension, got a game-high 18 points from freshman guard Sara Scalia. It was Scalia’s third consecutive game in double figures, coinciding with Pitts’ absence.
Scalia was one of five Gophers players to score in double figures. Hubbard scored 17 points, Jasmine Brunson added 13 and Jasmine Powell and Taiye Bello had 10 apiece.
“Everybody has to contribute, whether it is scoring or defense,” Hubbard said. “It does help when everybody is pitching in and getting their shots going.”
Dominique Oden scored 17 points to lead Purdue (12-7, 3-4) but needed 16 shots to do so. She also turned the ball over six times against a ruthless Gophers defense.
Brunson finished with five steals and Powell had three, while Hubbard and Masha Adashchyk had two each as the Gophers accumulated 14 total. Both Hubbard and Brunson scored on fast breaks from takeaways in the final 46 seconds of the third quarter, plays that seized the momentum.
“That is as good as our defense has been in a while, locking in and getting after people on the ball and high hands,” Whalen said. “All the things we talk about every day, we did.”
It marked the Gophers’ first victory since Dec. 28 at Penn State. Sunday’s victory also was their third in a row at Purdue, the first time Minnesota has won three straight in West Lafayette since 1983-85.
“We needed this win badly. It was a good win all around,” Scalia said. “Everyone contributed, and we were on the road against a good crowd. I think this will get us going.”