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U star Braun expected to miss tonight's WNIT game as injury flares up

The Gophers women's basketball team's run in the WNIT will likely have to continue without leading scorer Mara Braun, beginning with Monday night's game at Wyoming in the Great 8 round.

Braun tweaked her right foot during the Gophers' round-of-16 victory over North Dakota State on Friday night. The good news: Braun did not re-break the bone in her right foot, an injury sustained Jan. 28 at Illinois that required surgery and kept her out for 11 games. Braun returned to start both of the Gophers' WNIT victories.

The bad news: the Gophers should be without Braun on Monday, and the team has struggled without its leading scorer.

"We're going to be really careful," Gophers coach Dawn Plitzuweit said about Braun. "We'll be as smart as possible. The good news is, from a long-term standpoint, she's in a good spot."

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Plitzuweit said she didn't know whether Braun could return if the Gophers continued their WNIT run. But the tournament's schedule is condensed. With a victory, the Gophers would move on to play the winner of the Troy-Louisiana Monroe game, likely Wednesday. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday.

The Gophers-Wyoming game has a 7:30 p.m. start and can be streamed on the Mountain West Network.

The Gophers went 2-9 with Braun out of the starting lineup. Their only victory in a 1-8 finish to the regular season was an 88-63 triumph over Northwestern. It was after that game center Sophie Hart was lost because of a left hip injury. She has scored 24 points combined in two WNIT victories since her return.

Minnesota beat Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Conference tournament before losing to Michigan.

Still, the Gophers are used to having to play without Braun.

"I think our practice had good energy," Plitzuweit said. "I think our kids are really ready."

The Gophers get a Cowgirls team coming off a blowout win over South Dakota. Wyoming plays a motion offense around center Allyson Fertig, who averages 14.1 points per game.