No. 20 Minnesota (6-0) used a fourth-quarter rally to knock off No. 12 Syracuse (6-2) and stay undefeated with a 72-68 victory Thursday night at Williams Arena in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Golden Gophers led for most of the contest, including by as many as 12 in the first half, and entered the fourth quarter up 50-46. They held a 55-48 advantage with 8:56 to play in the game, but Syracuse responded with a 13-0 run to lead 61-55 with 3:36 to play.
Minnesota threw a counter-punch, though, as they responded to the 13-0 run with a 12-0 spurt of its own to put the game away. Sophomore Destiny Pitts hit a 3-pointer to start the rally, while senior Kenisha Bell had eight of the team’s 12 points, including an emphatic and-one play that capped the run at 67-61.
Bell led all scorers with 24 points, her third 20-point game of the season, grabbed nine rebounds and had three assists. Eleven of her 24 points came in the fourth quarter alone.
Junior Taiye Bello notched her fourth double-double of the season as she posted a career-high 20 points and was one off her career high in rebounds with 18. Ten of her 18 rebounds came on the offensive end, and she was 8-of-11 from the free throw line, setting career highs for makes and attempts.
Senior Annalese Lamke was one point away from her first career double-double as she tallied nine points and a career-high 13 rebounds, while Pitts reached double figures with 10 points and tied a career high with five assists.
As a team, the Gophers tied a season high with their 50 rebounds, including a season-best 23 on the offensive end. For comparison, Syracuse was limited to just 33 rebounds with 10 being offensive. In addition to rebounds, Minnesota held a sizable edge at the free throw line, making 23 of 31 attempts, while the Orange were just 5-of-6.
Minnesota set the tone early, leading 17-6 with 2:32 to play in the first quarter. Syracuse chipped away at the lead in the second quarter, coming to within three at 34-31 with 2:29 to play in the first half.
Once the second half started, Minnesota saw its lead grow again as a free throw from Bello had the team in front 44-33 midway through the third.