Minnesota’s women’s basketball team might not have made the NCAA tournament, or even finished above .500 this season, but they’re still playing, something only 64 teams will be able to say on Sunday.
The Gophers will play a second-round Women’s National Invitation Tournament against South Dakota State on Sunday at Frost Arena in Brookings, SD Tip is set for 2 pm
The teams haven’t met since the 2018 NCAA tournament, an 89-77 Gophers victory, so it was a quick turnaround for both teams.
“I know they’re a really good team and we’re going to have to play really well together in that game, for sure,” said Gophers junior Sara Scalia, who scored a game-high 33 points in a 73-65 first -round victory at Green Bay on Thursday.
Minnesota improved to 15-17 after finishing 7-11 in the Big Ten. The Jackrabbits (24-9) were the regular-season Summit League champions and hammered Ohio, 87-57, in the first round Thursday.
Tori Nelson, a sophomore from Mendota Heights, finished with 15 points, three rebounds and five assists with no turnovers against the Bobcats. The Henry Sibley graduate was the Summit League freshman of the year in 2020-21. She’s shooting 57 percent from the floor and 45 percent from 3-point range (32 for 74).
Sunday’s victor will advance to the Sweet 16 to meet the winner of Monday night’s game between Drake and Northern Iowa.
Scalia hit four 3-pointers at Green Bay giving her 109 this season, second most in NCAA Division I. She leads the team in scoring with an 18.3-point average but has had some big help as the Gophers have gone 6-5 in their past 11 games.
In Thursday’s victory, Kadi Sissoko added 18 points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. Senior Gadiva Hubbard added 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in the Gophers’ first tournament victory since beating Northern Iowa 91-75 in the 2019 WNIT.
Sissoko, a junior forward, is averaging 19 points and 9.6 rebounds in the Gophers’ past five games.
“She’s definitely stepped up for us,” Scalia said.
Sunday’s game can be heard on FM 96.7 KFAN-plus and streamed live on MIDCO Sports Plus.