Gophers Fall Short Against Nebraska in Big Ten Opener, 70-67

Minnesota (6-5, 0-1 B1G) dropped its Big Ten opener to Nebraska (9-0, 1-0 B1G) 70-67 on Monday night at Williams Arena. For the first time this season the Golden Gophers had multiple 20-point scorers with Kadi Sissoko (25) and Sara Scalia (20) leading the offense.

Nebraska raced out to a 16-8 lead by the opening media break, shooting 70 percent out of the gates. Sissoko’s career night showed early on as the redshirt junior scored the Gophers last six points in the opening period but the deficit was still at 11 with the score at 25-14.

The second quarter the Minnesota defense settled in by allowing just 21.4 percent shooting. The Gophers allowed just eight total points to claw their way back to down just two at halftime. Led by eight points in the quarter from Scalia the Gophers used runs of 10-2 and 7-0 to pull the halftime score to 33-31.

A slow start to the third quarter put Minnesota in a 10-point deficit just three minutes into the second half but Sissoko continued to keep the Gophers in the contest with jumper after jumper. The Paris, France, native scored 11 points in the third quarter, including four field goals, to spark an 8-0 at the end of the quarter and headed into the fourth down just three.

The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair between the two teams. Early on, Scalia answered a Nebraska three with a long-range triple of her own but Nebraska continued to hit its free throws to keep Minnesota at bay early in the quarter. Scalia ultimately tied the game with her fourth three of the night and then gave the Gophers a 59-57 lead with 5:05 to go. After Minnesota’s lead grew to four on a Deja Winters layup the Cornhuskers quickly tied the game at 61-61 with 3:11 to go in the game.

In the final 3:11 the Cornhuskers were the more efficient team shooting 3-of-5 down the stretch and converting 3-of-4 from the free throw line to take home the 70-67 road victory. Nebraska had four players in double figures with Jaz Shelley and Bella Cravens leading the way with 15 points each.

After a four-game homestand where the Gophers finished 2-2 the 51st season of Gopher women’s basketball heads back on the road with No. 12/9 Michigan on Sunday, Dec. 12.