Gophers women’s basketball finds its shooting touch in 73-56 win over American University

For a team struggling to make shots so far this season, this was a step forward.

The Gophers shot a season-best 46% from the field in routing American University 73-56 on Wednesday night in nonconference women’s basketball at Williams Arena before an announced crowd of 2,643. It was the third consecutive victory for Minnesota (3-1), which had been relying on its defense to beat opponents while shooting only 34.2%.

Kadi Sissoko, a 6-2 junior forward, led the Gophers with a season-high 17 points, five rebounds and three steals. She was one reason her team’s shooting percentage was better, making six of 12 shots, including one three, and going 4-for-6 on free throws. Teammate Jasmine Powell added 12 points and eight assists.

“Four games in eight days, with a West Coast trip in there,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. “… Really proud of the team and team and way we responded.

“American is a tough team. They run some really good stuff.”

The visiting Eagles (2-2) led 8-4 before the Gophers went on a 13-0 run and never trailed again.

BOXSCORE: Gophers 73, American 56

By the end of the opening quarter, the Gophers led 21-10. American got within 27-24 with 4:32 left in the second before Deja Winters and Alexia Smith got back-to-back baskets for Minnesota to make it 31-24. The lead was still seven, 35-28, at halftime. It grew to as many as 21 points late.

The Gophers outrebounded American 34-26 and especially hurt the Eagles with 15 offensive boards. The disparity in second-chance points was 23-3 for the Gophers, who also scored 26 points off the Eagles’ 20 turnovers. Bench points were 30-15, again in the Gophers’ favor.

Lauren Stack and Taylor Brown led American University, a private school in Washington, D.C., with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Eagles shot 48.8% from the field and 40% on threes.

Minnesota was 9-for-25 on threes — 36% for another season best.

Even with that, a 20-point difference in second-chance points enabled the Gophers to win comfortably.

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