When, exactly, Sara Scalia knew it was going to be one of those nights is unclear.
Maybe it was the corner three she hit with 7 minutes, 23 seconds left in the second quarter of the Gophers women's basketball team's 73-54 victory over Bradley at Williams Arena on Friday. Maybe it was 35 seconds later when she drove left, stepped back and hit a jumper.
"I was feeling confident," Scalia said. "Whenever I saw an open shot, coming off a screen, whatever, I shot it. Until, I guess, I missed."
That took awhile.
Bradley was playing the Gophers almost even through a quarter and a half Friday. When former Elk River star Gabi Haack drove the lane for a score with 6:50 left in the first half, Bradley was within a point.
But then Scalia got hot.
Over the final six-plus minutes of the half, as Bradley was making just one of nine shots, the Gophers (5-3) put on a 17-3 run that put them in control for good. Scalia scored 11 of those. At one point, she scored nine consecutive Gophers points, a stretch that took just over 4 minutes, that included a three, a step-back, a jumper off the dribble, a layup.
"When a player like Sara gets going, we know we have to get her the ball any way we can," said point guard Jasmine Powell, who scored 12 points with seven assists. "Let her create, shoot it, get downhill. She's capable of scoring at all three levels."
Up 15 at the half, the Gophers started the third quarter with a 10-4 run. Scalia scored eight of those points, with two-three-pointers and a pullup jumper just over 4 minutes into the quarter that put the Gophers up 21.
At that point, in a stretch of 9½ minutes, Scalia had personally outscored Bradley 19-7 and the Gophers as a team were on a 27-7 run.
The Gophers never lost control.
It wasn't all Scalia. She and Powell were both on. Kadi Sissoko had 12 points and six boards. Freshman post player Alanna Micheaux went 5-for-5 for 10 points. Those four players were a combined 22-for-38 overall and 7-for-9 on threes, reasons why the Gophers shot 47.7 percent as a team and made eight of 17 three-pointers.
Meanwhile, the Gophers defense limited Bradley (3-2) to 31% shooting. Haack led Bradley with 19 points.
"This was probably our most complete game, our most complete win," Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. "And it was against a good team that went to the NCAA tournament last year. I thought our shot selection was really good. I'm proud of the team."
It has become clear early this season that the Gophers go the way their starting backcourt of Scalia and Powell go. When both are playing well Minnesota's offensive efficiency soars. Friday they both were on.
"They just have a look, both of them, when they're dialed in," Whalen said.
Whalen played with a few good shooters during her WNBA career. She knows what has to happen when one gets hot. "You keep going to it for as long as you can,'' she said. "And we did that tonight.''
Especially with Scalia.
"I just trust in the work I put in," Scalia said. "And once I see a couple go through, I feel more confident."