When Kadi Sissoko sees red, that's a good thing.
As in Wisconsin red.
Scoring a team-high 16 points, dishing eight assists and grabbing eight rebounds, Sissoko led the Gophers women's basketball team to an 82-66 victory at Wisconsin in Madison.
Sissoko — and the Gophers — like this matchup. In three games vs. Wisconsin, she has averaged 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists, shooting 54%.
"I don't know why,'' she said. "I really don't know. But it's a good thing, though.''
Minnesota (9-8, 2-3 Big Ten) is now 6-1 vs. Wisconsin under coach Lindsay Whalen, 4-0 at Wisconsin.
In control for much of the game, the Gophers saw a 14-point lead cut to five late in the third quarter. But the Gophers pushed the lead back to nine, then opened the fourth on a 7-0 run, taking a 16-point lead when Sissoko got the ball to Sara Scalia on the break for a 62-46 lead. Wisconsin (3-12, 0-5) never got closer than 10 again.
Scalia and Deja Winters scored 14 each for the Gophers, combining to make six of 13 three-pointers.
For Sissoko, it is business as usual.
The game marked the return of Whalen and point guard Jasmine Powell. Whalen missed two games after an emergency appendectomy last week. It took a toll. Exhausted after the game, Whalen declined to talk postgame, but did issue a game reaction through a release.
"I'm proud of our effort in the second half, especially when they cut it to single digits,'' she said. "That's what it takes to get a road win in the Big Ten.''
Powell missed Sunday's loss to Maryland while in Detroit attending her grandmother's funeral. She returned Wednesday to score nine points with four assists.
Seven Gophers players scored seven or more points. Freshman post Rose Micheaux had eight points and eight rebounds. Bailey Helgren scored seven points with a block. Gadiva Hubbard hit three of five three-pointers and scored nine.
"The fact we had everybody being able to score was definitely a good thing,'' Sissoko said. "They had to make choices, and we had people open. We were able to knock down shots.''
At a 49% clip.
But it was Sissoko, Scalia and Winters leading the way. Sissoko had eight points in the Gophers' 27-point first quarter, which ended with the Gophers up six. Scalia had nine points as Minnesota scored another 27 in the fourth.
The closest it came to a game was when Julie Pospisilova's put-back with 3:56 left in the third pulled the Badgers within 47-42. But Sissoko broke the streak with two free throws, and scored four points in an 8-4 finish to the quarter that put the Gophers up nine. Pospisilova finished with 18. Krystyna Ellew had 19 for Wisconsin.
The fourth started with Micheaux scoring on a put-back, Scalia hitting a second-chance three. Moments later Scalia's fast-break drive off a Sissoko pass had the Gophers up 16.
For Scalia her finish was important. She has scored in double figures in seven straight games. But last week she struggled, hitting just 10 of 30 shots in two games. After a 1-for-7 first half, things clicked in the second. Especially the fourth quarter, when she hit four of six shots.
"I saw my first three go down in the fourth quarter, and that opened my game up a little bit,'' Scalia said. "I've gone through a couple [shooting slumps] in the past. The biggest thing is hustle. When I got that layup after the three, it got me going.''
Sissoko has scored more points before. But her all-around game might have been her best with Minnesota.
"Outstanding game,'' Whalen said. "Her jumper was on and she made some outstanding passes.''
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.