Led by a career day from senior Taiye Bello, Minnesota (14-8, 4-7 B1G) outlasted RV/NR Rutgers (16-5, 6-4) Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena, 73-71, in two overtimes.
In just the eighth game in program history to go more than one overtime, Bello scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds, including 14 on the defensive end. It tied for the fifth most rebounds in a game in program history and tied for 10th most in Big Ten annals. It was the highest rebound total for a Gopher since Amanda Zahui B. also had 22 against DePaul in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Offensively, she was 15-of-19 at the free throw line, recording the second most free throw attempts in program history and tying for the second most makes. Playing over 46 minutes, Bello also blocked four shots, tied a career high with three assists, recorded two steals and attempted the first two 3-pointers of her career in her 113th game.
Freshman Jasmine Powell equaled Bello with 19 points of her own to tie a career high. Playing over 47 minutes, Powell was a perfect 10-of-10 at the free throw line and had five rebounds with four assists.
Also in double figures was junior Gadiva Hubbard, who finished with 17 points thanks in part to five 3-pointers while playing over 49 minutes.
Down 30-27 at halftime, Minnesota stepped up its defense in the third quarter and outscored Rutgers, 11-5, in the frame. It was the lowest point total the Gophers had allowed in any quarter this season.
Rutgers opened the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run to lead by as many as seven, but Minnesota chipped away and l found itself down 56-52 with just 38 seconds remaining. Hubbard closed the gap to just one point with a 3-pointer, and the Gophers got the ball back down two after Khadaizha Sanders made one-of-two at the line. Needing to go the length of the court, freshman Sara Scalia connected with Bello on a deep pass and Bello was fouled on her shot attempt.
Bello calmly stepped to the line and made both shots to force the first overtime game of the season.
In the first overtime, Rutgers scored four points within the first minute but was then held off the scoreboard for the remainder of the period. Down two with just over 30 seconds remaining, Bello rebounded a Powell miss and put it back in to tie the game and send it to a second overtime.
Minnesota never trailed in the second overtime as Bello (5) and Powell (4) combined for nine of the team’s 12 points, all of which came at the free throw line. The Gophers led by six with 25 seconds to go but the Scarlet Knights didn’t go down without a fight as Arella Guirantes and Mael Gilles sandwiched 3-pointers around a made free throw by Scalia.
Scalia again made 1-of-2 at the line with five seconds left. Guirantes got the rebound and passed ahead to Sanders, but her potential game-winning shot hit the rim and Minnesota improved to 6-2 all-time in double overtime.
After the recent two-game homestand, Minnesota is back on the road Thursday at Wisconsin. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)