With a layup 20 seconds into the contest, Minnesota cracked open a lead they did not give up until the final buzzer Tuesday.
The Golden Gophers (8–1) defeated the Colonials (6–4) 83–50 and snapped women’s basketball’s four-game win streak. Minnesota shot at a .500 clip from the field and at a .520 clip from deep, while GW netted 37.3 percent of its attempts from the field and 30.8 shots from beyond the arc, tying its lowest point production this season.
“We were probably feeling a little good about ourselves after a four-game win streak,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “But I think today brought a few things into reality that we’ve been talking about, and against a really good team like Minnesota, those flaws are going to get exposed a little bit more than some of the teams we were playing lately.”
The Golden Gophers opened the game shooting 3-of-3 from the field to earn an eight-point lead. Redshirt freshman forward Mayowa Taiwo and redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke responded with a pair of baskets to cut the deficit in half with seven minutes left in the quarter.
Hyduke and sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah led the team in scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Hyduke, who earned Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors Monday, has led the team in scoring over the past three games, averaging 19 points per game.
At the end of the first quarter, Minnesota outscored GW 23–13, sinking 52.2 percent of its offensive production from behind the arc. In the first frame, the Golden Gophers shot 4-of-7 from deep while GW only sunk one triple.
Minnesota extended its lead in the second quarter, outpacing GW 26–9. The Colonials committed 10 turnovers and the Golden Gophers’ defense capitalized. Minnesota netted a game-high 19 points in the second quarter off Colonial turnovers. By the end of the contest, the Golden Gophers scored 33 points from 23 GW turnovers.
Coming out of the halftime break, Hyduke said the Colonials were focused on limiting the Golden Gophers’ explosive offense.
“We were mainly focused on our defense,” Hyduke said. “I don’t remember how many points they scored in the half, it was probably close to 50. Our intensity just needed to be a lot higher and we needed to calm down on offense with the ball.”
Minnesota opened the second half with an eight-point scoring run. In the third quarter, the Colonials held the Golden Gophers to 16 points, their lowest-scoring quarter of the contest. The Colonials held Minnesota to its lowest shooting percentages in the third frame, shooting at a .462 clip from the field and at a .400 clip from the three-point line.
In the fourth quarter, the Colonials stayed neck-and-neck with the Golden Gophers, scoring a game-high 17 points. The Golden Gophers topped them by just one point, scoring 18 points in the final frame.
But the Colonials couldn’t make up for the 32-point difference heading into the final frame, and the squad dropped the game 83–50. The team attempted just 13 shots from deep, which falls below the team’s average of 16.4 three-point attempts per game. Hyduke said Minnesota’s defense pressured GW and forced them to take looks inside.
“They weren’t letting us find our guys easily compared to other teams that we have played in the past, so we needed to get it into the post and the paint more, and that’s where we were trying to get in the second half,” Hyduke said.
The Colonials turned over the ball eight times throughout the second half, down from its 15 turnovers in the first frame. Mokwuah said the team increased their focus and intensity entering the second half to prevent turnovers.
“There were multiple times in the first half where we were just getting stuck and just ended up turning over the ball because we didn’t know what to do with it,” Mokwuah said. “By picking up our intensity and just cutting hard for each other, we were able to make things easier and give up less turnovers.”
Freshman guard Sara Scalia and junior guard/forward Destiny Pitts led Minnesota and all scorers with 23 and 20 points, respectively. The duo shot above 60 percent from the field and netted a combined 10 triples. The pair also spread the scoring around, racking up nine of the team’s 20 assists.
Mokwuah said the squad improved defensively in the first half but didn’t focus on the scouting report at the start of the game.
“In the first half we didn’t really focus on the scout and the players that we were dealing with, so we gave them a lot of points that we definitely shouldn’t have given them,” Mokwuah said. “I think that’s one thing we have to focus on in the rest of the season.”
The Colonials will return to the Smith Center Dec. 20 against James Madison. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.