Without a court leader on Monday, Lindsey Whalen’s Gophers were at a disadvantage from the start. But the head coach was confident that she still had enough money to give Nebraska her first defeat of the season.
They have done this before. Minnesota beat the Kornhusks last season to win Game 2 without starting point guard Jasmine Powell. They were startlingly close to doing it again on Monday, but in the end Nebraska had too many 70-67 wins at the Williams Arena.
Kadi Sissoko scored a record 25 points and Sarah Scalia added 20, despite playing to the point for most of the game, but the Gophers were unable to secure a four-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“It’s hard to lose. I thought we had a chance of winning, ”Whalen said. “I thought some of the guys performed with no Jazz, and so there are a lot of performances that I think are really good. But obviously we didn’t, so it’s hard to accept. ”
Deja Winters took the gophers ahead 61-57 with a driving break of 4 minutes 34 seconds, but Nebraska used an 11-4 run for the next three minutes to take control. Sam Heiby, senior defender from Moorhead, scored eight of those points, giving the Kornhaskers a 68-65 lead with 43 seconds left.
Scalia missed with paint and Deja Winters conceded an open three-pointer before Ashley Scoggin had two free throws with 11.3 seconds left.
Heibey finished with 13 points, while Jazz Shelley and Bella Cravens each averaged 15 points for the Kornhuskers, who improved to 9-0, 1-0 in the Big Ten. The gophers dropped to 6-5, 0-1.
Powell, averaging 12.3 points and 5.9 assists, was eliminated with a lower right leg injury and was wearing a stationary boot while watching from the bench. It’s unclear if she’ll be available for Sunday’s Michigan game.
“She is getting treatment and she will continue to work with the medical staff and we will see how she is doing,” Whalen said.
Without Powell, Scalia was forced to jump from a position by surprise to a point that she had done before and was doing well. But this move solves a lot of what Minnesota loves to do offensively. Scalia is the best three-point shooter on the team and it was almost impossible for her teammates to get an open shot due to the gameplay moment.
However, Scalia was effective. She showed 4-of-7 from three-point range and scored several goals down the center of the lane.
“It was definitely a lot more work,” Scalia said. “They picked me up in the backcourt on almost every possession. I just had to start attacking, and then when it was my turn, or I saw a shot or open play, I did everything I could to create or interrupt my shot. ”
At this stage, turnovers played an important role. The Gophers received six points in the fourth quarter and the Kornhuskers finished with 21 points.
The Gophers were 33-31 behind at half-time, but immediately dropped four points after two revolutions to start the third quarter as Nebraska scored its first six points. They started fourth at 11-4, taking a 61-57 lead, but failed to make enough stops to widen it.
Nebraska captured seven of the next 10 rebounds, beating the Gophers 13-3.
“This is what it all comes down to in this league,” Whalen said. “Everyone’s fighting, everyone’s fighting, and it’s all about the noise and who can get those extra boards when nothing falls. We talked about it between halves and at times I thought we were pretty good, but obviously we weren’t good enough for long enough. ”