If Carlie Wagner has shown one thing in her freshman season, it’s that she can hit the big shot.
But how about three of them?
After struggling on both ends of the court for much of the game Sunday, Wagner scored eight straight points during a two-minute stretch late in the second half to lead the No. 23 Gophers to a 65-61 comeback win over Indiana at Williams Arena.
The Gophers improved to 16-2, the best 18-game start in school history, and at 5-1 in the Big Ten, they remain a half-game behind Maryland.
“It was just good to finally hit a shot, you know, at a good time,” said Wagner, a high school scoring sensation from New Richland. “… Just fight through the adversity — I think that’s something we’ve really learned this year.”
Senior Shae Kelley had another sturdy performance for the Gophers, recording her second straight double-double and leading the team with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
And after starting the game 2-for-9 from the field, Wagner finished with 13 points and four rebounds, but the final stat line doesn’t show how she was able to steal one for Minnesota in front of an announced crowd of 5,424.
Gophers coach Marlene Stollings summed it up succinctly: “We just couldn’t really get going.”
Twenty Gophers turnovers turned into 22 Hoosiers points, and Indiana (12-5, 2-4) scored 15 second-chance points off 16 offensive rebounds.
For the game, the Hoosiers shot just 42 percent from the field — 7-for-23 from behind the three-point arc — but every time the Gophers chipped away at the lead, another mistake would give Indiana some breathing room.
After opening the game on a 5-0 run, Indiana never trailed until the final minutes.
Wagner hit a three-pointer with 2:38 remaining to cut the lead to two, and then she buried another three to give Minnesota its first lead of the game, 60-59, with 1:18 left.
Indiana took the lead right back with a bucket by Jenn Anderson, and then the Hoosiers forced Gophers center Amanda Zahui B. into a turnover — only to have Mikayla Bailey steal it back for Minnesota.
The Gophers drew a foul, and went right to Wagner on the inbounds play. She worked around a screen and hit a wide-open layup with 37 seconds left.
Indiana, which has 11 freshmen and sophomores on its roster, threw the ball away on the following possession, and the Gophers closed the game with free throws from Zahui and Kelley.
Larryn Brooks and Amanda Cahill both scored 12 for Indiana, and Anderson had 10.
Zahui chipped in 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Gophers after playing just 27 minutes because of foul trouble. The 6-5 Swede dealt with constant double teams on offense and attempted just eight field goals.
Kelley helped pick up the slack, carrying Minnesota much of the game. And Wagner came up big late.
“I guess when you score 3,000 points, or over 3,000 points, in high school you’re not surprised that she can score in so many ways,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said of Wagner. “And she can. She can shoot it, she can drive it, she has great bounce, she has great athleticism.
“She’s fearless, that’s what I love about her.”