MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota women’s basketball team (13-3, 3-2 B1G) heads to Bloomington, Ind., to take on No. 16/13 Indiana (14-2, 5-1 B1G) at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The game will be Minnesota’s debut on the streaming platform Peacock, on Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. CT while Justin Gaard and Lynnette Sjoquist will continue to broadcast the game on KFAN+.
MNN sports director Mike Grimm caught up with Gopher sophomore Amaya Battle of Hopkins:
ABOUT THE INDIANA GAME
Minnesota and Indiana are meeting for the 74th time on Jan. 17, with Indiana owning a 18-15 advantage in the series that started in 1974. Last season Minnesota met Indiana just once with Indiana earning a 77-54 victory at Williams Arena.
Indiana has won each of the last six meetings with Minnesota with the last win for the Gophers coming back on Feb. 6, 2019, when the Gophers won at Assembly Hall 65-61.
Wednesday’s matchup will feature two of the conference’s top three scorers with Mackenzie Holmes (19.5) and Mara Braun (19.0) facing off for the second time. Last season Holmes scored 28 points while Braun scored 13.
Indiana is coming off just its second loss of the season, taking a 84-57 loss on the road against then-No. 3 Iowa. The loss snapped Indiana’s 13-game winning streak and moved the Hoosiers road record to 3-2 this season. At home Indiana is a perfect 9-0 this season and have won by an average of 32.7 points per game at Assembly Hall but against Big Ten teams at home have only won by an average of 11.7.
Individually this season the Hoosiers are led by Mackenzie Holmes who averages 7.3 rebounds next to her 19.5 points per contest. She shoots a staggering 65.1 percent from the floor, which is No. 1 in the Big Ten and sixth nationally. Indiana’s offense also features three other scorers who score 10.6 points or better which includes Sara Scalia (14.7), Yarden Garzon (11.3) and Sydney Parrish (10.6).
As of Jan. 14, Indiana is the No. 1 team in the Big Ten, and No. 4 nationally, in field goal percentage at 51.0. The Hoosiers are also the 11th-ranked three-point shooting team this season at 38.1 percent, which is second in the Big Ten Conference.
Indiana has two Minnesota natives on its roster in Lilly Meister (Rochester, Minn.) and Sara Scalia (Stillwater, Minn.).
Minnesota picked up its second straight win with a 62-58 victory over Nebraska on Jan. 14. The Golden Gophers saw Mallory Heyer once again lead the way with 16 points and seven rebounds, making seven of her 13 shots for the second straight game. Minnesota’s bench scored a Big Ten season high 18 points, with graduate student Janay Sanders leading the reserves with her Big Ten career high of 11 of 4-of-8 shooting in 18 minutes.
In the win over Michigan the Gophers saw their halftime lead evaporate after a 17-0 run by Nebraska in the second half, but Minnesota stayed resilient and saw sophomore Amaya Battle seal the victory with a three with eight seconds remaining to put Minnesota up by two possessions. Battle has now sealed two Big Ten victories for Minnesota, adding her Nebraska shot to her game-winning free throws against Purdue earlier this season.
On top of the clutch plays made by individuals, Minnesota has also been elite as a team in the fourth quarter this season outscoring their opponents 20.6 to 15.8 in the fourth quarter this season during conference play. In the fourth quarter in conference play the Gophers have shot 53.6 percent (37-of-69) from the floor and 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from beyond the arc while also hitting 74.1 percent (20-of-27) from the charity stripe.
Mallory Heyer was named to the Big Ten’s weekly honor roll after her performances against Michigan and Nebraska. Heyer 18.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and shot 8-of-16 (53.3 percent) from the 3-point line and 14-of-26 (53.9 percent) from the floor. This season in conference play Heyer is the only Big Ten player to average 11.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and shoot 40 percent from three.
Mara Braun leads the NCAA in free throw percentage at 94.4 percent, making 51-of-54 attempts this season. This year Braun is No. 3 in the Big Ten in scoring average (19.0), she’s seventh nationally in threes made (53) and among Big Ten players is No. 4 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2).
Last season the Gophers were ranked 291st in the NCAA and 13th in the Big Ten in turnovers per game (17.7) per game but through 16 games this season are ranked 31st in the country and No. 4 in the Big Ten at 13.3.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)