No matter how wide open they were, no matter how close they were to the basket, the Gophers’ shooting touch betrayed them over and over in the first half Sunday night. They made only two of their first 16 attempts, sending even uncontested layups sailing over the hoop or off the rim.
Once they found their stroke, though, they soared. The Gophers shot 56 percent in the second half in a 105-86 victory over Towson at Williams Arena, as everyone in their five-guard lineup hit double figures.
Carlie Wagner (27 points), Shayne Mullaney (25) and Joanna Hedstrom (14) established career highs, while Rachel Banham scored 24 to maintain a streak of 20 or more points in every game this season.
The Gophers (5-2) made only two shots from the floor in the game’s first eight minutes as Towson built an 18-7 lead. Tigers guard Dominique Johnson scored a game-high 35 points — including 19 in the first half — and made nine of 14 three-pointers.
Towson trailed 48-46 at halftime, but Johnson opened the third quarter with consecutive three-pointers to give the Tigers a 52-48 lead. The Gophers scored nine consecutive points to regain the lead for good; they led by as many as 21 as Towson fell to 2-6.
“We just had to keep shooting,’’ said Mullaney, who added a team-high 13 rebounds and nine assists. “We knew we would eventually start making those shots. Usually, we do.’’
Coach Marlene Stollings started center Jessie Edwards, but she used Edwards and fellow center Karley Barnes sparingly against Towson’s small, swift lineup. Edwards played three minutes and Barnes played six; neither scored, and Barnes had one rebound and one block.
Stollings quickly shifted to five guards to match up against the Tigers’ triangle-and-two defense.
Hedstrom gave the Gophers a strong performance off the bench, hitting five of nine shots and adding nine rebounds and five assists. She combined with Mullaney to score the Gophers’ final 12 points of the first quarter, cutting Towson’s lead from 11 points to one.
The Gophers took their first lead of the game as Bailey hit a three-pointer — her first basket in 10 attempts — to put them ahead 22-21 with 7:54 remaining in the half.
A 10-2 spurt stretched a one-point lead to a 45-36 margin, the Gophers’ largest lead of the half.
After Johnson restored the Tigers’ lead to start the second half, Banham and Wagner took charge during a 9-0 spurt, and the Gophers eventually wore down the persistent Tigers.
“Offensively, it was a very strong performance for us in the second half,’’ Stollings said. “Defensively, we had some lulls, but I’m pleased with our performance in the second half and how we worked through that.’’