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Rutgers leaves Minnesota with double-overtime loss

 – Photo by Benjamin Chelnitsky

Before Sunday’s game with Minnesota, the Rutgers women’s basketball team had played against Michigan State, Michigan and Illinois. It had lost to both Spartans (11-10, 4-6) and Wolverines (14-7, 5-5), which both as of now, have worse records than the Scarlet Knights (16-5, 6-4).

After losing to the Golden Gophers (14-8, 4-7) Sunday afternoon, Rutgers lost its opportunity to stop the bleeding that has occurred over the past couple weeks and took a 71-73 double-overtime loss on the road that further distanced the team from the NCAA tournament conversation.

Starting off, the Knights looked to have a grasp on their opponent, as they took a 6-0 lead a little less than 3 minutes in. But Minnesota’s Taiye Bello brought the Gophers within two after a pair of free throws was followed up by a layup. Approximately 3 minutes later, with the score reading 8-6 in Rutgers’ favor, Minnesota was able to take the lead on a three-pointer shot by Sara Scalia. 

From there, the game went back and forth heading into the final seconds of the first quarter, as both teams were able to retake the lead at some point in the final 3 minutes of the period. The squads headed into the second quarter with the score reading 15-14 in the Gophers’ favor after a late free throw by Scalia.

To begin the second period, the Knights’ bench found itself in the action, as graduate student guard Danielle Migliore, who ended the game with 6 points in 8 minutes of playing time, was able to follow up a pair of layups by graduate student guard Khadaizha Sanders and junior forward Tekia Mack with 2 three-point jumpers that extended her team’s lead to 7 points.

Rutgers would see its advantage shrink, though, as Minnesota cut the deficit to three in the last 5 minutes with the help of Jasmine Powell. Powell scored 7 of her team’s 10 points in the last half of the quarter and ended the game tied for the team-high with 19 points.

At halftime, the score read 30-27 with the Knights in lead.

The visitors’ lead would last for a good portion of the third quarter. Rutgers was able to hold off its opponent’s offense until approximately 4 minutes left in the period, though the Knights ultimately gave it up after a turnover by junior forward Mael Gilles led to a jumper by the Gophers’ Masha Adashchyk, which knotted the game up at 33-33. Bello contributed with three free throws in appproximately the last minute of the quarter that gave her team a 38-35 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.

Gilles ended the game with 5 points on 2-of-6 shooting, two rebounds and two steals. She is currently averaging 6 points per game, approximately five rebounds per game and approximately one steal per game this season.

To begin the fourth period, after Rutgers was able to erase Minnesota’s 40-37 advantage early on in the quarter, the Knights took the lead on junior guard Arella Guirantes’s layup that was followed up with an extra free throw point after a Gophers’ foul.

Rutgers went on to control the lead for the majority of the fourth quarter, though a Sanders foul led to two Bello free throw shots that occurred at the last 3 seconds of the period.

Bello made both of her attempts, tying the game up at 57-57 and sending both teams into overtime.

Though the Knights were able to take the first lead in extra time, the first overtime period ended in a similar fashion to the last 10 minutes of regulation.

Rutgers held an advantage until there were 34 seconds left. With the score reading 61-59, the Knights would need to fend off Bello, who had accumulated 17 rebounds and tallied 14 points up to that point. They failed to do that as she went on to grab an offensive rebound before putting it right back up for the game-tying points.

The contest was heading to double-overtime with the score tied at 61-61.

It wouldn’t stay that way for long, though, as Minnesota jumped out to a 63-61 lead 39 seconds into the period. The Gophers didn’t look back and were able to build a 6-point lead before fending off a late Rutgers comeback to eventually win the contest.

The Knights were sent packing, heading home with their third loss in four games ahead of the team’s upcoming matchup with Penn State, which occurs on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

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