Battle’s career night leads Gophers past Rutgers in Big Ten Tournament

Amaya Battle #3 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers takes the shot while Antonia Bates #4 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights attempts the block in the First Round of the Big Ten Tournament at Target Center on March 06, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images))

Amaya Battle had a career night, and the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team lives to see another day in the Big Ten Tournament.

Battle scored a career-high 32 points, a tournament program record, and added seven assists and five rebounds as the No. 11-seeded Gophers beat No. 14 Rutgers 77-69 in the first round at Target Center Wednesday night. Maybe Battle’s best number of the night was zero, as in turnovers.

"Amaya did a great job handling the basketball for us and making great decisions with it, then she scored a lot too. She took a burden in doing a lot of that for us, but made great decisions with the ball in her hands," Gophers coach Dawn Plitzuweit said after the win. "She played phenomenal, she really did."

What was the key for Battle to have the best game of her career? A clear mind.

"Having a blank mind. My coaches have invested in me and helping me grow my game and understand what I need to do and what they expect from me," Battle said "My teammates are super encouraging and always instilling confidence in me. They were working hard, that inspired me to work hard as well."

Holloway has seen Battle have plenty of big games, going back to their high school days when Eden Prairie took on Hopkins. Holloway is now happy to have Battle as her teammate.

"I played a lot of games against Amaya and she's always had that competitive edge, but I love to see her when she turns it on," Holloway said. :Thank goodness she turned it on for us today."

The Gophers (16-14) advance to face No. 6 Michigan in the second round Thursday night.

Nia Holloway added seven points, nine rebounds and three steals off the bench, and Grace Grocholski added 12 points. The Gophers forced Rutgers into 16 turnovers, and turned them into 17 points. Minnesota got the win despite Destiny Adams leading the Scarlet Knights with 31 points and 27 rebounds.