Minnesota (7-7, 0-2 B1G) returns to Big Ten play when the team travels to Piscataway, N.J., for a meeting with Rutgers (7-8, 0-3 B1G). The Jan. 6, matchup is the first for the Gophers in 2022.
ABOUT THIS GAME
– Minnesota’s matchup with Rutgers is the second time in a row the two teams have met in Piscataway. Last time the Gophers and Scarlet Knights met was 11 months ago in 2021, a matchup that Rutgers won 83-56. Rutgers returns just one starter from last year’s matchup while all nine of Minnesota’s student-athletes who played in 2021 returned this season with Katie Borowicz the only one not available to the Maroon and Gold due to injury.
– Minnesota and Rutgers will meet for just the 11th time Thursday. The Scarlet Knights hold a slight 6-4 lead in the series.
– The home team has won every game in the series as Rutgers is 6-0 in Piscataway, while Minnesota has won all four meetings in Minneapolis.
– Minnesota sophomore Alexia Smith and Rutgers freshman Sakima Walker were high school teammates at Africentric Early College in Columbus, Ohio. They won two state titles together and reached the state semifinals in 2020 before COVID-19 ended the season early.
– No individual on Rutgers averages more than 8.2 points per game this season with Osh Brown and Shug Dickson both averaging just over 8 points per game this season. A total of 15 different players average over two points per game this season with just one player on the roster not averaging at least two points per contest this year.
– Rutgers is 7-8 on the season and is 0-3 in the Big Ten this season. Rutgers dropped its latest matchup with Purdue (1/2/22) on a buzzer-beating shot on the road. In the team’s other two Big Ten games the Scarlet Knights have dropped a close game to Penn State on the road 52-48 and lost to then-No. 8 Maryland on Dec. 5, at home 73-59.
– University of Minnesota women’s basketball head coach Lindsay Whalen had successful, emergency appendectomy surgery on Tuesday (Jan. 4) evening. She is recovering and will not coach the Gophers on Thursday at Rutgers. Carly Thibault-DuDonis will serve as Minnesota’s acting head coach at Rutgers.
– Sara Scalia leads the Gophers with a scoring average of 15.4 points per game this season. In addition to her scoring prowess, which ranks 13th in the Big Ten, Scalia is fourth in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage at 44.4 percent and is second in 3-point field goals made per game at 3.1 and has made the second most total threes at 44.
– This season Minnesota as a team has the second-best three-point field goal percentage in the Big Ten at 37.4 which is also good enough for 11th best in the NCAA. On average the Maroon and Gold make 8.7 threes per game, good enough for the 28th best mark in the nation and the second best in the conference. In total the team’s 122 made threes is the most in the Big Ten and the 12th most in the country.
– Jasmine Powell continues to distribute the basketball at the best rate of her career this season. The junior guard is third in the Big Ten this season in assists per game at 5.8, good enough for the 18th best rate in the country. She is one of just 10 players in the country to average 13.1 points per game and 5.8 assists per game, in that list, just three are on Power 5 teams, all of which are in the Big Ten conference.
– Kadi Sissoko is the Gophers leading rebounder this season at an average of 5.6 per game. She is ninth in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds per game at 2.6 in just an average of 23.4 minutes per game.
– Graduate student Deja Winters got back on track offensively against Ohio and in doing so eclipsed the 1,000 point threshold for her career. Winters, who made stops at Seton Hall and North Carolina A&T before joining the Gophers, scored 16 points in the win and registered three blocks on the defensive end for the second time this season.
– On Dec. 21, head coach Lindsay Whalen was announced as a candidate for the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2022. Whalen, who is eligible for the first time this year, is on the ballot for her time as a player. After a stellar collegiate career where she led the Maroon and Gold to the Final Four, Whalen collected numerous honors and championships in the WNBA and with the U.S. National team. Finalists will be announced Friday, Feb. 18, in Cleveland, Ohio, during the NBA All-Star Weekend.
– Minnesota recently announced its 2022 signing class on National Signing Day with head coach Lindsay Whalen welcoming in the No. 4 ranked recruiting class in the nation according to Jr. All Stars. Minnesota’s four signees include Mara Braun (Wayzata, Minn.), Amaya Battle (Hopkins, Minn.), Mallory Heyer (Chaska, Minn.) and Niamya Holloway (Eden Prairie, Minn.).
BY THE NUMBERS
9 – Sara Scalia’s nine threes against Ohio (12/15/21) is tied for the second most against a non-conference opponent in Big Ten history.
2 – Sara Scalia became the second fastest Gopher to reach the top 10 in Minnesota history for threes made when. Scalia now sits at No. 9 in program history with 147 made threes.
115 – Gadiva Hubbard has played in 116 games in her Golden Gopher career and is approaching the top 10 in the Minnesota record books and could reach as high as No. 2 this season which is held by Carlie Wagner (2014-18) and Linda Roberts (1978-81) at 129.
5 – This season Deja Winters is fourth in the conference in average blocks per game at 1.2, which is the second most by any guard in the Big Ten.
3 – Gadiva Hubbard needs just two threes to pass Shannon Schonrock (2002-06) for the 3rd most threes made in program history.
20 – Sara Scalia scored 20+ points in back-to-back games for the second time in her career when she scored 22 points against Drake (12/23/21) after dropping 37 against Ohio
1 – Minnesota’s opponents so far this season have a combined winning percentage of 70.4, the highest among the Big Ten’s teams through Jan. 4.
Minnesota continues Big Ten action on Jan. 9, back at home for the first time in 2022, against No. 10/8 Maryland (10-4, 2-1 B1G) at 2 p.m.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)