The Gophers learned a hard lesson after a tough game on the road: sometimes the ball just doesn’t want to go in.
San Diego (6-4) defeated Minnesota (9-2) 72-69 Sunday. Kenisha Bell led the team with 20 points and four steals. Gaddiva Hubbard added 19 points and Carlie Wagner had 14 points, but the Gophers just couldn’t seem to find their shot and came up short in the afternoon game.
“They had a lot of pressure on the ball,” said Annalese Lamke, who came off the bench with a career-high eight points. “They made it really difficult for us to get the ball into some of the players we wanted to.”
Minnesota shot 43.3 percent from the field, including 2-15 from behind the three-point line and 9-17 from the free-throw line. However, despite the physical play from San Diego, the Gophers believe it was more about what they did not do, rather than what the Toreros did.
“I think it was more us,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. “We did not hit free throws or three-pointers well. It’s uncharacteristic of us. If we take care of our business at the three point line or free throw line, we win the game. It was a rough shooting game for us today.”
Minnesota and San Diego tied in rebounds at 36 apiece. Taiye Bello led the Gophers with 12 rebounds.
“We knew coming into the game that they were really good rebounders,” Lamke said. “So that was a really big key to the game that we needed to focus on.”
The game was close for all four quarters, with neither team being able to pull away from the other. Throughout the game, San Diego’s biggest lead was 10 points, but with less than 30 seconds on the clock, San Diego only led 72-69. The Gophers came down the court and attempted three 3-point attempts as the time wound down.
“We can always improve on our defense and the mental toughness going into a road game,” Lamke said. “We have to come in and be able to take whatever the team is going to throw at us and come out with the win.”
San Diego shot 49.2 percent from the field, and 40 percent on 3-pointers. The Toreros came out aggressive with eight second-chance points, but most importantly, they finished strong, shooting 52.9 percent from the field. San Diego took advantage of their home court and made the Gophers play catch up for the rest of the game; a hard thing to overcome on the road.
“The physical toughness was the biggest challenge,” Hubbard said. “We didn’t match that in the first or fourth quarter, which gave us a pretty big setback.”
The Gophers next game will be against Cal Poly at Williams Arena on Wednesday. After a loss like this one, Minnesota got the chance to learn a lot about themselves, including what they need to improve on as Big Ten play approaches.
“We still need to improve on fourth quarter mentality,” Hubbard said. “That should be a time when we up our intensity, up our defense, but they scored 26 points.”