Freshmen trio lead Gophers past St. Francis Brooklyn 72-54

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Full Game Recap:

  • First Half: Both teams started very slow out of the gate. After combining for 11 total possessions, the Gophers trailed 2-3 heading into the first media timeout. As Dawson Garcia began to heat up so did the game. The UNC transfer make his presence felt with 4 early points and 4 rebounds, as Minnesota led 15-12 with 7:46 to go. The next 4+ minute stretch was the Gophers’ best of the day, jumping out to a 27-20 lead thanks to some big plays from true freshman Joshua Ola-Joseph. Things continued to get better for the Maroon & Gold, closing the half strong, leading 37-28 heading into the break.

  • Second Half: The Gophers’ momentum continued into half No. 2. Dawson Garcia was the game’s first player to reach double figures and Minnesota took its biggest lead of the game at 45-30. True freshman Jayden Henley began to take over the game. With a team-high 14 points mid-way through the second half, Minnesota’s lead ballooned to 58-34. The lead continued to grow, with a combined effort from Pharrel Payne and Dartmouth transfer Taurus Samuels. The Maroon & Gold lead 66-41 with 4:51 to go, ultiamtely ceiling a 72-54 victory.

Instant Reaction & Takeaways:

The more I watch the Gophers freshman class, the more they continue to impress me. Joshua Ola-Joseph, Pharrel Payne and Jaden Henley have all shown potential to be All-Conference players at some point in their Gophers careers. All three have also looked like freshmen, which is something that should be expected at this point in their careers. Nevertheless, adding former MN Mr. Basketball winner Braeden Carrington (ankle) to the mix at some point will be appointment television this season. No matter how this team looks with Battle back in the lineup, Gophers fans will have a lot to look forward to with the impressive young talent on this roster.

Dawson Garcia and Ta’Lon Cooper are still the two best healthy players on this team and they showed it tonight, but the consistency of these freshmen will determine the Gophers’ ceiling in 2022-23. Minnesota fans should be ecstatic about this program’s future, and the freshman class really looks better than anyone could’ve hoped.

What is Next?:

The Gophers will now have their first real test of the season Monday, as they host DePaul in the annual Gavitt Games Tip-off series. DePaul was picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East, but second-year head coach Tony Stubblefield has the program trending in the right direction. It will be a solid step up in competition. The Blue Demons will likely not be an NCAA Tournament team, but still some competent competition. Tonight showed me that this team will only continue to get better. As Battle and Carrington continue to get healthy, they will obviously have more talent on the floor, but the freshman trio of Ola-Joseph, Payne and Henley will also continue to improve. There is still a lot to learn about this team, but tonight was another step in the right direction.

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