Jasmine Powell got into some early foul trouble Sunday and was limited to just eight minutes in the first half of Minnesota’s game against Syracuse on the second day of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
That didn’t stop her from playing a major role in the Gophers’ 70-63 victory.
Powell, a junior point guard, scored five of her seven points in the closing minutes and finished with 10 assists and five rebounds as the Minnesota women bounced back from a lopsided loss to second-ranked Connecticut on Saturday.
“I just thought the way she ran our team was really, really good,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. “Early foul trouble, it happens. She stuck with it. Some of your best nights as a point guard are nights like she had tonight.”
That’s high praise coming from Whalen, a point guard who led the Gophers to the 2004 Final Four before winning four WNBA championships with the Minnesota Lynx.
Powell’s 3-point play off a driving layup with 1:26 remaining gave Minnesota a 67-57 lead before the teams traded free throws and timeouts. The Gophers made 5 of 6 from the stripe down the stretch, including two more from Powell that gave the Gophers a 69-61 lead with 29 seconds remaining.
Her 10 assists were a team game-high, and she finished with just three turnovers. Powell picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter but was there at the end.
“She was able to stay poised,” Whalen said. “Sometimes those are your best nights as a point guard, nights like she had tonight … because you ran your team and you got everybody involved. Her pace was really good, and she handled their press. They sat in a 1-2-2 for the majority of the game.”
Kadi Sissoko had a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Sara Scalia and Deja Winters added 17 and 16 points, respectively, as Minnesota (4-2) advanced to play the winner of Sunday’s late game between Oklahoma and Buffalo for fifth place Monday at 4 p.m. CST.
In the winner’s bracket, No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Connecticut will meet for the title at 11 a.m. On Saturday, UConn thumped the Gophers 88-58 in the opening game of the first-year tournament in the Bahamas.
The Huskies (3-0) edged No. 23 South Florida, 60-53, on Sunday to advance. South Carolina beat No. 9 Oregon 80-63,
Chrislyn Carr scored a game-high 18 points for the Orange (2-3), eight of them in the last 2:49 of the game. Last April, 12 of Syracuse’s players entered the NCAA transfer portal, and in August Quentin Hullsman resigned.
“This team is just learning to play together,” acting head coach Vonn Read said.
Still, the Orange outscored the Gophers 17-12 in the second quarter and took a 31-29 lead into intermission. They built that lead to four on back-to-back jumpers by Alaysia Styles early in the third quarter, but Minnesota soon took over.
Winters, a graduate transfer who made her first start Sunday, answered with two 3-pointers and Sissoko scored on a second-chance hook shot to make it 39-36. Minnesota never trailed again, scoring 27 third-quarter points.
Scalia, a junior from Stillwater, played all of last season with a shoulder injury and was limited between games. This season has been different, she said. In two Battle 4 Atlantis games, she’s 11 of 22 from beyond the arc.
“This season I’d say I’m a lot more confident and trust my game just a little bit more,” Scalia said. “Because when I was injured, obviously, I couldn’t work on my game as much as I can now. Now, I feel confident and just trusting the work I put in.”