DES MOINES — Two minutes, 26 seconds into Thursday afternoon’s battle between Drake and Minnesota, the Bulldog women’s basketball team was dealt a dose of adversity it was not expecting.
In attempting a layup, Drake center Maggie Bair was hit with an unintentional forearm/elbow to the nose by a Minnesota defender. Bleeding and in pain, Bair went off the court and did not play the rest of the game, spending the second half on the bench in street clothes.
Suddenly, the Bulldogs were without their leading scorer who had tallied four points in the game’s early stages.
But, as Drake head coach Allison Pohlman said, the Bulldogs’ depth helped them cope with the loss in a 77-63 win over the Golden Gophers.
“Any time you have someone go down, one of your warriors, you gotta fill holes,” Pohlman said. “They really rallied, and one of the great things about this team is our depth. So today, we just had to have people step up.
“The second half is really indicative of who we are and what we do.”
The Bulldogs trailed 14-12 after the opening 10 minutes and shot just 29.4 percent from the floor in the first quarter and shot just 35 percent from the floor in the second quarter, only hitting one three. That three was a desperation attempt from point guard Katie Dinnebier with the shot clock running out.
Going 1-for-10 from deep in the first half, Drake held on to a slim 29-27 lead after coming back from a 23-16 deficit. Nine Bulldogs scored in the first half, but none scored more than four points.
Dinnebier, who would end up leading the team with 14 points, said the amount of players who stepped up in Bair’s absence proved how deep the team is.
“We had players that stepped up and everyone was knocking down shots in the second half,” Dinnebier said. “She’s definitely a huge part of our team, so to have her go and know that she was our scorer right off the bat, that definitely hurt us.”
The second half saw Dinnebier hit two threes in the first six minutes of the third quarter as Drake stretched out its lead to 51-40 with a minute remaining in the period. However, Drake caught a break in the final seconds — Grace Berg fouled Gadiva Hubbard on a half-court heave and gave the Gophers a chance to trim the deficit to six points. It was also Berg’s fourth foul. Hubbard only made one of the three free throws, but the Gophers weren’t done attempting to scare the Bulldogs.
A 6-0 run to begin the fourth quarter brought Minnesota within two at 51-49. Instead of giving the lead away, though, the Bulldogs opened fire and hit six 3-pointers to pull away. Hannah Fuller hit two, Berg hit two, Maddie Petersen hit one and Dinnebier buried her fourth of the afternoon. Drake was up 72-53 in a flash.
Berg — who scored 14 points — said once the shots began to fall, the whole team got a lift.
“You just gotta keep shooting, eventually they’re gonna go in,” Berg said. “That’s exactly what happened. It was a lot of fun.”
Five Bulldogs reached double-figures: Berg, Dinnebier, Petersen (11 points), Courtney Becker (11 points) and Fuller (10 points). Fuller led the team with five assists and with six rebounds. In all, the Bulldogs out-rebounded Minnesota 40-26 and dished out 24 assists to the Gophers’ 11.
Ending the non-conference slate 8-3 in the first year of Pohlman’s tenure, Drake now takes a week off before hosting Indiana State Dec. 30 at the start of Missouri Valley play.
Drake 77, Minnesota 63
MINNESOTA (7-7) — Micheaux 3-4 0-0 6, Sissoko 2-5 0-0 4, Powell 4-16 1-2 10, Scalia 8-16 0-0 22, Winters 1-2 2-2 4, Bagwell-Katalinich 0-2 0-0 0, Mershon 2-3 0-0 4, Helgren 0-0 0-0 0, Hubbard 3-8 1-3 8, Smith 2-5 1-2 5. TOTALS 25-61 5-9 63.
DRAKE (8-3) — Bair 2-3 0-0 4, Berg 5-6 2-2 14, Dinnebier 5-9 0-0 14, Meyer 1-8 0-0 2, Petersen 4-8 2-2 11, Wooldridge 2-6 1-2 5, Fuller 3-6 2-2 10, Gueldner 0-1 0-0 0, Becker 4-7 3-4 11, Miller 3-6 0-0 6. TOTALS 29-60 10-12 77.
Minnesota 14 13 16 20 — 63
Drake 12 17 22 26 — 77
3-Point Goals–Minnesota 8-25 (Scalia 6-12, Powell 1-5, Sissoko 0-1, Hubbard 1-5, Winters 0-1, Smith 0-1), Drake 9-22 (Dinnebier 4-6, Berg 2-2, Fuller 2-3, Petersen 1-5, Miller 0-1, Wooldridge 0-2, Meyer 0-3). Assists–Minnesota 11 (Powell 5), Drake 24 (Fuller 5). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–Minnesota 26 (Scalia 5), Drake 40 (Meyer, Fuller 6). Total Fouls–Minnesota 14, Drake 11. A–2,183.