Gophers' Mara Braun on game-winning shot: 'Just a really cool feeling'

Mara Braun is the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after hitting a buzzer-beater in the Gophers' 101-99 win over Lehigh on Sunday. (credit: University of Minnesota Athletics)

Mara Braun’s phone has been buzzing with texts, social media shout-outs and she’s even heard from a few classmates at the University of Minnesota. That’s what happens when you hit a game-winning shot.

The freshman from Wayzata scored 34 points in 38 minutes, but it was her last three that carried the Gophers’ women’s basketball team to a 101-99 win over a Lehigh squad on Sunday that features five players from Minnesota. With 1.7 seconds to play and Minnesota trailing 99-98, Braun got an inbounds pass from freshman teammate Amaya Battle.

She turned and shot, and the next thing she knew she was being mobbed by teammates after hitting a buzzer-beater. Did she know it was good when it left her hand?

"People keep asking me that and I want to say yes. But honestly, I knew I had to get it up and get it up fast. I kind of saw it curving in there and everyone erupted, it was just a really cool feeling," Braun said Tuesday. "Definitely No. 1, it’s got to be. Definitely undefeated so far."

Braun was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday, as her 27.5 points per game through two games leads the conference. 

"You’ve been able to see that instinct that she has, that determination. Just willing to take and make big shots, she’s gotten to her spots really well and she’s been aggressive when she’s needed to be," Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said.

Whalen hugged her highly-touted freshman after the game-winning shot, and had a few words for her that eventually had her fighting tears.

"She just kind of said you’re built for moments like this. She had the confidence in me to give me the ball at that time of the game. Amaya had the confidence to give me the ball too, so just glad that I was there," Braun said.

She said the game-winning shot has brought added attention to the Gophers’ program, which is never a bad thing.

"Tons of text messages, calls, people I haven’t talked to in a while. Super cool to hear from some of those people. Definitely heard from a lot of people that were like alright, I’ll be at more games now," Braun said. "I think that kind of put us on the map a little bit."

Now, the Gophers (2-0) have to turn the page as they travel to North Dakota State Wednesday for their first true road game of the season.