For much of the first half they felt the pressure, but handled it.
The Gophers women's basketball team had spent two days practicing for the Rutgers press.
But when the Scarlet Knights turned up the pressure, it was too much.
Down by a point midway through the second quarter and by 10 at half, Rutgers' pressing defense took control in the third quarter, pushing that lead as high as 31 in an 83-56 victory at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Wednesday night.
"When they turned it up, and things got going for them, we didn't respond the way we needed to,'' Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. "They turned up the pressure, took some more chances.''
Against the best pressing team in the Big Ten Conference, the Gophers saw their 22 turnovers turned into 35 points by Rutgers (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten), which won its fourth straight game.
The third quarter was the killer. After pressing three-quarters of the court for most of the first half, Scarlet Knights coach C. Vivian Stringer extended that press to the fullcourt in the second half.
The result: The Gophers shot 4-for-13 and turned the ball over 12 times in the third, resulting in 17 Rutgers points. At one point the Gophers committed consecutive five-second violations, unable to get the ball in play.
It turned a relatively close game into a blowout.
"They have a lot of energy,'' Whalen said. "They leave it out there on every possession. It gets tough.
"That's where we have to continue to work together as a team, problem-solve through those tough stretches, be better.''
Center Klarke Sconiers came off the bench to score 13 for the Gophers (7-10, 6-9), with 11 coming in the first half. Sara Scalia scored 12.
The Scarlet Knights got 26 points from freshman Diamond Johnson, who hit six of seven three-pointers. Arella Guirantes had 22 points and Tekia Mack 12 with eight rebounds.
Rutgers came out fast, jumping to a 13-4 lead. Then Gadiva Hubbard, back after missing five games with a sprained ankle, hit consecutive three-pointers as the Gophers pulled within five.
The Gophers opened the second quarter on a 10-6 run to pull within 27-26 on Jasmine Powell's three-point play with 5:24 left in the half.
But Rutgers finished the half 11-2, then outscored the Gophers 22-11 in the third quarter to put the game away.
"I would say that [Rutgers] went into the locker room [at halftime] and had a talk,'' Sconiers said.
"There was a lot more intensity.''
From the moment Powell drew the Gophers within a point until the end of the game Rutgers had a 56-30 scoring edge.
It won't get any easier this weekend. The Gophers went from New Jersey straight to Maryland after the game, where they will play the first-place Terrapins on Saturday morning.
"They're fast to the ball,'' Whalen said of the Rutgers press. "We got, you know, I don't know what you want to say, passive, timid. They took more chances and we didn't break it as well as we needed in the second half.''
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.