Women's Basketball

Opponent Preview: Everything to know about Minnesota

Anya Wijeweera | Photo Editor

The Orange need to win the rebounding battle over the Gophers, as SU averages 39.5 per game compared to Minnesota’s 37.6.

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After defeating Morgan State in a commanding 79-60 win, Syracuse fell back to .500 with a 77-53 loss against No. 23 South Florida. The Orange were unable to score in the second and fourth quarters against the Bulls, totaling 17 points in both periods.

Still, Christianna Carr emerged as the main scoring option for Syracuse against South Florida, totaling 14 points, two blocks and a steal. Teisha Hyman, who is coming off her second ACL tear and averaged 14 points heading into Saturday, finished with only 4 points on 2-for-7 from the field.

Following its loss to USF, the Orange are now set to face Minnesota, instead of UConn if they had defeated the Bulls. This is Syracuse’s second matchup in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which added women’s college basketball to its slate for the first time this season. The Orange are out of contention for winning the tournament.

Before Syracuse (2-2, 0-1 ACC) takes on Minnesota (2-1) in the second round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, here’s what you need to know about the Gophers.

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All-time series

Minnesota leads 1-0.

Last time they played

The only time Syracuse faced Minnesota was when it was the 12th-best team in the country, and the Gophers were ranked 20th in 2018. The Orange trailed by as many as 12 points in the game, but were able to take their first lead in the fourth quarter.

But like this season, Syracuse was unable to stop a run from its opponent at the end of the game. With a struggling Tiana Mangakahia, who went just 5-of-19 from the field, Minnesota went on a 12-0 run to seal the win. The Gophers upset the Orange 72-68.

The Gophers report

Minnesota lost to UConn 88-58 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, only scoring eight points in the third quarter. The Gophers struggled to stop the Huskies’ Christyn Williams, who finished with 31 points. Last season the Orange held Williams to 11 points.

The Gophers have particularly struggled with shooting this season, currently sitting at 238th nationally in field goal percentage. In its win over George Washington, Minnesota only scored 48 points, shooting 23.1% from beyond the arc. The Gophers best performance of the year came in a 66-59 overtime win over Arizona State, led by Jasmine Powell’s 21 points.

How Syracuse beats Minnesota

Minnesota has matched Syracuse’s up-and-down start to the 2021-22 regular season. The Gophers are sitting slightly over .500 with three straight wins, but they could easily be sitting at 4-2 if they hadn’t given up 24 fourth quarter points against Jacksonville in their season-opener.

The Orange need to win the rebounding battle over the Gophers, as SU averages 39.5 per game compared to Minnesota’s 37.6. While this is a small margin, it’s enough for acting head coach Vonn Read’s small-ball rotation to exploit. Like its win against Morgan State, SU will need to rely on guards to crash the boards, specifically Teisha Hyman, who finished with nine rebounds against the Bears.

Player to watch: Jasmine Powell, forward, No. 4

Powell earned 2021 All-Big Ten Second Team honors last season, averaging 14.5 points and 5.4 assists per game on the season. She missed the last three games due to injury, but her average assists per game was good for 18th-best nationally. The Orange will have to stop Powell from finding passing lanes if they want a chance against the Gophers offense.

This year, Powell scored a season-high 21 points versus Arizona State, an achievement that was one point shy of her career-high. Powell finished with a 40.9% shot percentage, also a season-high.

But she’s been cold as much as she’s been hot in terms of shooting this season. After scoring 12 points against American with a 40% shot percentage, Powell only scored five points against UConn, going 1-for-10 from the field.

Stat to know: 8.6 free throws made per game

The Gophers are tied for 126th in the country in attempts from the free throw line, with only 68 attempts so far this season. Once Minnesota does get to the charity stripe, it only succeeds on 63.2% of its attempts. This is something that Syracuse can pounce on early, knowing that even if a foul is called on a hard defensive play, the Gophers will most likely bend at the line. In particular, this is helpful for the Orange’s full-court press, allowing players like Hyman and Najé Murray to be more aggressive when reaching to try and force steals.

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