Five days after a season-opening home loss, the 23rd-ranked Gophers women’s basketball team started better, defended better, rebounded better in Sunday’s lopsided 90-58 victory over Vermont at Williams Arena.
It did so partly because teammates Jasmine Powell and Gadiva Hubbard found the comfort and productivity each lacked in Tuesday’s 77-69 loss to a Missouri State.
For Powell, it was the freshman guard’s second college game, and she produced a team-leading 19 points and four assists off the bench. Fifteen of those points came in a first half when the Gophers led by as many as 27 points.
“The first game, we rushed some shots, especially me,” Powell said.
For Hubbard, it was the redshirt junior guard’s second game back from a season’s absence that followed October 2018 foot surgery.
She scored all 12 of her points in the first half and made two of her three three-point attempts after not attempting a single three in 20 minutes of playing time in the opener.
“It felt different because I’m used to shooting a lot, but I knew I couldn’t just force it,” Hubbard said about Tuesday’s game. “That first game, I could say I was nervous being it was my first game back. This game, I became a little more comfortable with what I was doing. That showed in the first half. I’m just trying to get back completely to how I used to play, and it definitely helped to get the rust off a little bit.
“I wanted the game [on Tuesday] to come to me. I knew the next game it would come.”
It came indeed on Sunday when freshman guard Sara Scalia started her first college game and delivered a 28-minute, nine-point, seven-rebound, two-assist performance.
It did so on an afternoon when the Gophers shot 48.5%, held Vermont to 38.5% and outrebounded their America East opponent 41-32. They also committed just five turnovers.
“That just showed the poise of our team,” Gophers second-year coach Lindsay Whalen said. “Powell was terrific off the bench. She was poised. When we have that spunk and that poise, it’s fun to watch and it makes us a really tough team.”
Powell won a 2017 Michigan state championship when she played with Gophers junior Destiny Pitts at Detroit’s Country Day High School. Pitts was next for her team with 16 points Sunday.
“We have that relationship,” Powell said. “We’re just carrying it over to the big stage, playing here in Minnesota. It gives us energy. It gives everybody a little more edge.”
Vermont never challenged after a 9-2 run gave the Gophers a 23-9 lead late in the first quarter. Senior forward and former Champlin Park High standout Hannah Crymble led Vermont with 22 points and received a warm ovation from family and friends when she was subbed out late in the game.