A Gophers women's basketball team badly needed a win got the perfect opponent Saturday afternoon — and took advantage.
Minnesota routed Rutgers 80-46 at Williams Arena to move ahead of the Scarlet Knights in the Big Ten standings and creep just above .500 for the season.
Kenisha Bell and reserve Gadiva Hubbard both scored 19 points to lead the Gophers (13-12, 4-8).
Bell was 11-for-12 at the free throw line. Hubbard was 4-for-7 on three-pointers and scored 17 of her points in the second half when Minnesota, which was 1-4 in its past five, turned the game into a blowout.
"I challenged [Hubbard] before the game," Gophers coach Marlene Stollings said in a postgame radio interview. "She was the leading freshman scorer in the league [before being sidelined by illness and injury], we wanted her to get back to that spot."
Hubbard took a step in that direction.
"It just felt good, you know," Hubbard said. "I've been out being sick and then the [broken] nose and injuries. It just felt good to be able to score and get back to my normal."
Rutgers (6-19, 3-9), meanwhile, remained winless on the road (0-12) this season and lost its sixth consecutive game. The lowest-scoring team in the conference — at 52 points per game — shot just 29 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers, which Minnesota turned into 32 points.
The Gophers shot 41.8 percent and had just 12 turnovers while getting 11 steals. Bell had four steals, Hubbard three.
Bell and her teammates kept going to the line, too, as Rutgers committed 28 fouls — Minnesota was whistled for nine — and had two players foul out. The Gophers were 27 of 34 at the free throw line, the Scarlets Knights just 7-for-9.
The Gophers led 31-20 at halftime. The lead was 10 in the third quarter when Minnesota went on an 18-4 run, starting 3:43 into the second half, to go ahead 53-29. Hubbard had seven points in that suge, Bell six.
"The third quarter was crucial for us," Stollings said. "We talked a lot about at halftime about making them have to match our intensity in the third quarter and not the other way around."
Carlie Wagner, the team's leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, was the third Gopher in double figures with 12 points. But for the second game in a row, her shot wasn't falling. After going 3-for-21 the game before, she was 3-for-13.
It didn't matter, though. Not against Rutgers, whose point total was the lowest by a Gophers opponent in Stollings' three seasons at Minnesota.