Seventh-seeded Minnesota (20-10) bowed out of the Big Ten Tournament in the second round with a 66-58 loss to No. 10 Indiana (20-11) Thursday night in Indianapolis.
Sophomore Destiny Pitts led all scorers with 25 points to post her seventh straight game with at least 20 points. It’s the longest stretch for a Gopher since Rachel Banham ended the 2015-16 season with 20 straight 20-point games.
During her run, Pitts is averaging 24.1 points per game over her last seven games while shooting 46.9 percent from the floor, 38.3 percent on 3-pointers and 93.0 percent on free throws.
Joining Pitts in double figures was senior Kenisha Bell, who scored 15 points and had a game-high nine rebounds.
As a team, Minnesota set a school record by making all 17 of its free throw attempts. It’s the most makes without a miss at the line, bettering the previous mark of 11-for-11 against Michigan State on Feb. 27, 2000. The figure also ties for the fifth best in Big Ten history.
Coupled with a 31-for-32 effort on Sunday against Michigan State, Minnesota has made 48 of its last 49 free throw attempts (98.0 percent). Thursday, Pitts was 9-for-9 at the line, while Bell made all four of her attempts and junior Jasmine Brunson and senior Annalese Lamke were both 2-for-2.
Gopher head coach Lindsay Whalen spoke with the Gopher Radio Network crew of Corbu Stathes and Lynette Sjoquist after the game:
That audio courtesy of Learfield/IMG College and Gopher Radio.
In the first quarter, the Gophers were within two at 8-6 but the Hoosiers closed out the frame on a 12-4 run to lead 20-10 after the first quarter. It was just the fifth time all season that the Gophers trailed after the opening quarter, and the 10-point deficit was the largest they had faced.
Free throws from Bell and a jumper from Brunson got Minnesota within 20-14 less than two minutes into the second quarter, but Indiana responded with a 10-2 run and held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the first half. At halftime, Indiana led 42-28.
Down 44-30 in the third, Minnesota got within seven thanks to a 10-3 spurt to trail 47-40 with 3:04 left in the quarter. Indiana held off further damage, though, to lead 53-42 going into the fourth.
Minnesota fought until the end, three times making it a two-possession game in the fourth quarter. Trailing 60-49 with 5:15 to play, junior Taiye Bello scored and Pitts followed with a three-point play to make it a 60-54 game with 2:33 to play. Minnesota would get to within six two more times, but that would be as close as the Gophers would get.
Minnesota now awaits its postseason fate with an announcement expected to come on Monday, March 18.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)