EUGENE, ORE. – All double-digit NCAA tournament seeds, men and women, will now use Maryland-Baltimore County’s historic 16-1 upset over Virginia as inspiration.
You can count the Gophers women’s team among them.
“I asked them if they knew who the Retrievers were today,” coach Marlene Stollings said Saturday of UMBC’s nickname. “What it does is it gives you hope that it can be done, it has been done and it continues to be done. Why not us? We’re looking to come into the game with that mentality.”
The Gophers play second-seeded Oregon on Sunday night. A year ago, the Ducks were a No. 10 seed that upset Temple, Duke and Maryland before losing to Connecticut. Wisconsin-Green Bay lost to the 10th-seeded Gophers on Friday as a No. 7 seed.
“Absolutely,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said when asked if the Gophers remind him of his team last year. “I think Minnesota is a dangerous team right now. They’re playing well. You want to watch a lot of film, but then you don’t want to watch because it concerns you.”
Gophers forward Irene Garrido Perez is living out her dream of playing Division I college basketball after growing up in Spain.
Two of Oregon’s players followed the same path, literally. Ducks guards Maite Cazorla and Aina Ayuso were part of the same Spanish Club team at Selge XXI.
“I’m very excited to play against them, because we were on the same team for three years,” said Garrido Perez, who played at Western Wyoming Community College last season. “We actually were roommates, too. They’ve been playing really good this whole season.”
Oregon has five international players on its roster, including Morgan Yaeger and Anneli Maley from Australia and Satou Sabally from Germany. Minnesota had four foreign players, including Australian Jessie Edwards and Hungarian Palma Kaposi. Spanish freshman Paloma Gonzalez played in eight games, but she left the team and went back home in December.