Gophers use 4th quarter rally to beat Eastern Illinois

The University of Minnesota gutted its way to a 59-48 come from behind victory over Eastern Illinois on Thursday afternoon at Williams Arena. The Gophers overcame an eight-point deficit, highlighted by Mallory Heyer’s 10 points in the second half to claim the win in the non-conference finale.

Heyer, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, put the Gophers ahead for good in the second half with her three with 7:07 to go. Minnesota out scored the Panthers 23-6 in the final quarter. Alanna ‘Rose’ Micheaux scored a game-high 14 points on 6-of-13 from the floor and added five rebounds. Freshman guard Amaya Battle brought down a career high four offensive rebounds, and totaled eight to go with her nine points and two assists.

The Maroon and Gold wasted no time in the opening moments of the contest finding Micheaux in the post just nine seconds in. It took another four minutes for the Gophers to get back into it on the offensive end, but a 9-0 run in the last three minutes of the opening quarter helped the Gophers hold a 19-13 advantage on the visitors from Eastern Illinois.

The second quarter was a slow-paced quarter from the two teams, combining for just 19 points with Eastern Illinois scoring five of the last seven points of the half to cut the Minnesota lead to 27-24 heading into the locker room.

The two teams traded the lead four times in the middle portion of the third quarter with Eastern Illinois keeping pace with Minnesota throughout most of the quarter. The Panthers turned it up late in the quarter, scoring seven straight points to grab an eight-point lead with 52 seconds left in the quarter. A Mara Braun layup gave Minnesota momentum going into the fourth, but the Gophers faced a six-point deficit at 42-36.

That momentum was converted into an 8-0 run that extended into the fourth with Micheaux scoring two buckets withing the first 63 seconds of the quarter followed by a Battle fast-break layup to tie the game at 42 with 8:28 to go. Eastern Illinois grabbed a pair at the free throw line to retake the lead, but a Heyer triple in the corner, with the pass coming from Isabelle Gradwell, put the Maroon and Gold ahead for good. Gradwell followed the Heyer three up with a fast-break deuce of her own and Minnesota’s run was on scoring 13 of 15 points over a three minute and 45 second span to grow the lead to 55-46. Minnesota at one point in the fourth had hit 10 shots in a row and in total shot 11-of-12 from the floor in the fourth to close out the non-conference with their third straight win.

As a team Minnesota shot 24-of-66 (36.4 percent) but shot 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) in the second half. The Gophers closed out the rebound battle with an 8-3 advantage in the fourth quarter, winning the battle overall 41-39.