(Indianapolis, IN) — The 2017 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament got underway yesterday in Indianapolis with two early-round games. Illinois advanced with a win over Nebraska, while Wisconsin moved on after dispatching Rutgers. The Golden Gophers’ Big Ten Tournament will begin tonight. Tenth-seeded Minnesota (14-15, 5-11 Big Ten) will take on seventh-seeded Penn State (19-9, 9-7 Big Ten) in the Second Round at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The game will tip off at 5:30 p.m. CT, with the telecast on BTN and the radio broadcast on the Gopher Radio Network (1440 AM in the Twin Cities).
Here are five things to know about the Gophers as they enter postseason play:
1 Carlie Wagner has received All-Big Ten Second Team recognition for the second year in a row. (She was All-Freshman in 2015.) Kenisha Bell received All-Big Ten Honorable Mention during her first season in the conference. Senior Joanna Hedstrom was Minnesota’s Sportsmanship Award honoree. Since Marlene Stollings’ arrival, the Gophers have had two Big Ten Players of the Year (Amanda Zahui B. in 2015, Rachel Banham in 2016), three total First Team selections, two consensus Second Team selections, one All-Freshman honor and one Honorable Mention award. Zahui B. and Banham went on to the WNBA Draft, making Minnesota the only team other than UConn to have top-five picks in both of the last two drafts.
2 Wagner is eighth on Minnesota’s career scoring list with 1,550 points. She has made 196 career 3-pointers, four from passing Katie Ohm (2006-10) for fourth on the Gophers’ list. This season, she has made 72 triples, the seventh-most in a season for Minnesota. Her 2016-17 scoring average of 18.8 ranks seventh in the Big Ten.
3 Wagner and Bell are tied with Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty and Hallie Thome as the No. 2 scoring duos in the Big Ten with a combined average of 35.2 points per game (behind Maryland’s Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough). Bell adds 16.3 points per game to Wagner’s 18.8. Wagner was part of the nation’s leading scoring duo last year, combining her 18.9-point average with Banham’s 28.6.
4 Minnesota has started the same five for seven consecutive games, which included three of its conference wins. Freshmen Taiye Bello and Jasmine Brunson and graduate transfer Whitney Tinjum have been part of that lineup with perpetual starters Wagner and Bell. Bello had a breakout second half against Ohio State before entering the lineup, and Brunson has been starting since filling in when Gadiva Hubbard (12.0 ppg) was injured. Tinjum notched her first Minnesota double-double against Purdue.
5 The Gophers have tallied 10 steals in two of their last three games. Their 10 steals at Maryland on Sunday were part of the then-No. 2/5 team’s season-high 21 turnovers. Bell ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 2.2 steals per game, and has 11 games with at least three.
SCOUTING THE LADY LIONS
• Penn State finished the regular season 19-9 overall and 9-7 in the Big Ten, ending with a win against No. 25 Michigan on Sunday.
• Head coach Coquese Washington is in her 10th season at Penn State. She has been to 12 NCAA Tournaments as a coach.
• Sophomore guard Teniya Page earned All-Big Ten First Team recognition from coaches and media. She averages 19.4 points and 3.8 assists per game.
• Senior Kaliyah Mitchell received All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. She averages 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game and has 22 blocks and 35 steals.
• The Lady Lions won this year’s first meeting with the Gophers in State College by outshooting Minnesota in the second half. Positives for the Gophers included 19 points from Taiye Bello and a season-low eight turnovers.
MARLENE STOLLINGS ON BIG TEN TOURNEY
MNN Sports Correspondent Corbu Stathes talked with Gopher head coach Marlene Stollings about the upcoming Big Ten event: