Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Gophers women’s basketball vs. Rutgers game preview: broadcast info and analysis

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6 p.m., Tuesday at Rutgers’ Jersey Mike’s Arena

TV; radio: BTN; 96.7-FM

Kent Youngblood’s preview:

Opening bell: The Gophers (14-9, 4-8 Big Ten), having lost five straight overall and three straight by an average of 17 points since leading scorer Mara Braun was hurt, will try to end both streaks against the Big Ten’s last-place team. The Scarlet Knights (7-19, 1-12) notched their lone victory at Nebraska on Feb. 3. This would appear to be a stretch of schedule that provides the Gophers, tied for 10th in the Big Ten, a chance for some wins. It’s the first of three straight games — including home contests vs. Northwestern and Wisconsin — against teams either tied with or below the Gophers in the standings. They have won just once in the last four games vs. Rutgers.

Watch her: Janay Sanders, since being moved into the starting lineup since Braun’s injury, has shot 60.6% as a starter and averaged 17.3 points. She was the only Gophers player in double figures in Minnesota’s 71-47 loss to Ohio State last Thursday. Forward Mallory Heyer is fourth in the Big Ten in rebounding (8.2) and has averaged 8.2 points over the last five games. Rutgers’ leading scorer Kaylene Smikle has been out of action since Dec. 30. Without her, Destiny Adams (15.0 points, 7.2 rebounds) has led the team.

Forecast: The Gophers’ losing streak should end in New Jersey, but they need to avoid the one bad quarter that has plagued them in recent games. The schedule is giving Minnesota a chance to push itself back to relevancy in the Big Ten as the regular season enters the final stretch.

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