Head coach Marlene Stollings walked along Minnesota’s bench before Tuesday’s game, calling for energy and giving each player a high-five. But the Gophers didn’t respond to her efforts. Minnesota’s defensive rotations were slow throughout the game, and during Tuesday’s 74-50 loss to Nebraska, the Gophers allowed the Cornhuskers to shoot at will. “I thought that we gave them really good looks, and they did a very nice job of knocking down those shots,” Stollings said at a postgame press conference.
“Zahui-mania” has hit the national level. Stretching beyond the “Wowie Zahui” sign that made its appearance at the Gophers’ last home game, athletes are jumping on the fan bandwagon and taking to social media. Just more than an hour after redshirt sophomore Amanda Zahui B.’s 39-point, 29-rebound performance last Tuesday — which broke program records — “Zahui” was one of the top trending words for Minnesota Twitter users.
Down 5-3 in the sixth inning of the Gophers’ final game of the weekend on Sunday, junior Sydney Fabian blasted a home run to tie the game. Over the weekend, Minnesota hit 10 home runs en route to five victories. The Gophers beat New Mexico State, Colorado State, Arizona State, and Boise State, twice, in the Diamond Devil Tournament. Senior Erica Meyer had three home runs. “When things didn’t go our way, we battled back for it. We did a good job of that, and we really hit the ball well,” Meyer said.
Senior forward Shae Kelley started tearing up on Saturday at a postgame press conference as she talked about her short tenure with Minnesota. Even before tip-off, there were high emotions surrounding the Gophers’ 91-88 double-overtime senior day victory over Michigan. Graduating forwards Kelley and Kayla Hirt shared Kodak moments with their entourage during a ceremony before the game. “I wish I had a little more time with them. Shae is special in that she is our first signee. And Kayla has just been a joy to coach,” head coach Marlene Stollings said.
Last year, Sara Groenewegen was the Big Ten’s Pitcher of the Year. And she wasn’t even the ace on her own team. With last year’s ace Sara Moulton graduated, the Gophers now rely heavily on sophomore Groenewegen to give them strong outings consistently. “Last year we had Sara Moulton and Sara Groenewegen. We had 1A and 1B. We had two tremendous pitchers, and our [pitching] staff is going to get back to that,” head coach Jessica Allister said. Moulton has since gone on to play professionally for the Chicago Bandits.
Nearly all of the 3,879 fans at Williams Arena for the Gophers season opener erupted as 5-foot-10-inch guard Carlie Wagner left her seat for the starting lineups. She was the first name introduced in the game against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 14, kicking off her first year of collegiate basketball. “It’s a comfortable feeling being in the starting lineup. I just worked really hard for it,” Wagner said in November.
Amanda Zahui B. scored only eight points in Minnesota’s last game before fouling out. She more than made up for that Tuesday, scoring 39 points and recording 29 rebounds in the Gophers’ 93-80 victory over No. 13 Iowa. “Some of these things are just unprecedented. She’s a sophomore, and she’s doing things that are unheard of. She’s the total package,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. History hasn’t been hard to come by for the Gophers this season, and Tuesday was no exception.
Junior guard Shayne Mullaney is progressing at a quicker pace than she anticipated at the start of the season. Last season, Mullaney and star senior guard Rachel Banham shared the point guard position. And after Banham went down for the season in December due to an ACL tear, Mullaney has helped fill her void. “With Rachel going down, it was a big loss for our team. I’ve really focused on doing the little things that make a big difference. Not one person is going to fill that big hole,” Mullaney said.
After the Gophers won 64-59 at Iowa on Thursday night, Andre Hollins answered different questions with the same response. What was the key to Minnesota winning its first Big Ten road game of the year? “Defense, defense. It took our defensive stops,” the senior guard said. How did they hold off Iowa? “We were up about 10 at Purdue. We were up at Michigan,” Hollins said. “It just takes stops. We’ve got to separate ourselves on defense.”
Minnesota was one victory away from owning the best starting record in program history heading into its game Sunday. But the Gophers fell short of that, losing to the University of Central Florida 4-0 on Sunday. The loss came after two victories over Stetson and one over University of Massachusetts-Lowell to begin the weekend. “That was a tough loss for sure. I mean, it’s not like we weren’t producing anything because we were getting on base,” sophomore ace Sara Groenewegen said. “We just weren’t stringing things together.”
While many Minnesotans had their eyes glued to their ...READ MORE