Minnesota wraps up a two-game homestand as it plays hosts to Ohio State Monday night at Williams Arena.
The game will be televised on Big Ten Network and can also be heard on the Gophers’ radio home, 96.7 FM KFAN Plus.
• “Win Together” Game – Monday night is Gopher women’s basketball’s celebration of diversity and inclusion
• Faculty and Staff Appreciation – Tickets are $6 for U of M faculty and staff
• Halftime: FM Acro Performance
THE OPENING TIP-OFF
• The Gophers are appearing on Big Ten Network for third time this season Monday night. They are 2-0 this year on BTN, beating Syracuse on Nov. 29 and Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener on Dec. 28. In those two games, Kenisha Bell averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds, while Taiye Bello averaged a double-double with 14.5 points and 17.0 rebounds. After the game against the Buckeyes, the Gophers are scheduled to have four more contests on the network: Feb. 10 vs. Northwestern, Feb. 14 at Purdue, Feb. 17 vs. Penn State and Feb. 28 at Rutgers.
• Few teams in the country get to the free throw line more than Minnesota. Through Thursday’s games, the Golden Gophers ranked third in the NCAA with 452 attempts, trailing only Arkansas State (486) and Notre Dame (465), while Minnesota’s 307 made free throws sat seventh nationally. Kenisha Bell has been the most prolific free throw shooter for Minnesota, ranking fifth nationally in attempts (150) and seventh in makes (102). Additionally, Annalese Lamke ranks fifth in the Big Ten in free throw percentage (80.0) and 10th in free throws made (64).
• Minnesota enters Monday night’s game receiving votes in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. The latest rankings snapped a 10-week run in the AP Poll for the Gophers, their longest such streak since appearing in all 18 polls during the 2005-06 season. Minnesota had also appeared in each of the last six coaches polls prior to Tuesday, snapping its longest run there since placing in all 17 polls also during 2005-06.
• The Gophers are 10-3 in home games this season. They won their first 10 games of the year at Williams Arena, tying for the sixth longest home win streak in program history. That run was snapped, though, with consecutive losses to Illinois (Jan. 6), Iowa (Jan. 14) and Purdue (Jan. 24). The Gophers hadn’t lost three straight at home since the 2010-11 season, and they’re looking to avoid their first four-game losing streak at The Barn since the 2009-10 campaign. All-time, Minnesota boasts a .695 winning percentage at The Barn (348-153). Kenisha Bell is the team’s leading scorer at home this year, averaging 19.8 points per game.
SERIES HISTORY WITH OHIO STATE
• Minnesota and Ohio State will meet for the 74th time on Monday. Series history has not been in the Gophers’ favor as they trail the Buckeyes, 57-16, and have lost four straight. The four-game losing streak is tied for their longest active streak against one team, while the 57 all-time losses are their most against any other program.
• In Minneapolis, Ohio State holds a 21-11 series lead, though the Gophers have won four of the last five meetings at Williams Arena by an average score of 80-74.
• In her playing career, Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen was 2-5 against Ohio State (DNP in either 2/26/04 or 3/5/04 games). She averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game, while shooting 40 percent from the floor and 73.7 percent from the free throw line.
LAST SEASON VS. THE BUCKEYES
• Minnesota and Ohio State met twice last season, once in Columbus and once at the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes prevailed in both contests.
• Destiny Pitts had a season high 28 points thanks to seven 3-pointers, including five in the fourth quarter alone, but the Gophers fell on the road to Ohio State, 91-75, on Jan. 4, 2018. The Buckeyes outscored the Gophers, 29-8, in the second quarter to take a 49-20 lead into the locker room and never looked back.
• Gadiva Hubbard (14) and Carlie Wagner (12) joined Pitts in reaching double figures, while Taiye Bello added 10 rebounds off the bench.
• The teams met up again later in the postseason on March 3 as the fourth-seeded Gophers met the top-seeded Buckeyes in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Playing in the semis for the second time in program history, the Golden Gophers saw three players score at least 20 points but lost 90-88.
• Kenisha Bell led the way as she came up one rebound short of the sixth triple-double in program history. Bell had a team-high 27 points, including 16 in the second half, and nine rebounds. Additionally, her 10 assists tied a career high and were the most ever by a Gopher in the Big Ten Tournament.
• Carlie Wagner finished with 26 points, 19 of which came in the first quarter, the highest point total in any quarter for a Gopher this season. She also had seven rebounds. Gadiva Hubbard also recorded 20 points.
• Tied at 79-79 in the fourth, the Gophers went on a 6-0 run over the next four minutes to lead 85-79 with 4:40 to play. Minnesota was held scoreless, though, for the next 4:35 as the Buckeyes embarked on an 11-0 run.
• A 3-pointer from Hubbard cut the lead to 90-88 with five seconds to go, and a pair of missed free throws by Ohio State gave the Gophers one last chance. However, a game-tying jumper fell short at the buzzer.
LAST TIME AT HOME AGAINST OHIO STATE
• Carlie Wagner scored 34 points but Minnesota lost to Ohio State, 88-76, on Jan. 26, 2017, the last time the teams met in Minneapolis.
• Kenisha Bell added 12 points and five assists, while Taiye Bello contributed nine points and a team-high seven rebounds off the bench.
• The Gophers led by one after the first quarter, but the Buckeyes had a few different eight-point leads in the second and led 39-31 at the break. Minnesota got it to within 43-41, but Ohio State ran the lead back up to nine points and led 62-56 through three quarters. In the fourth, the Gophers got as close as six points before OSU pulled away.
RECAPPING THE GAME AGAINST PURDUE
• Despite 19 points from Destiny Pitts and 17 from Kenisha Bell, Minnesota lost at home to Purdue Thursday night at Williams Arena, 64-53.
• After opening conference play by making 9-of-45 (.200) 3-point attempts in the first seven games, Pitts broke out of her shooting slump by going 5-of-11 (.455) against the Boilermakers. The five made 3’s tied for the second most in a game this year, as did her 19 points. Pitts also had four assists, one off a career high.
• After being held to just three points on 1-of-7 shooting in the first half, Bell bounced back in the second half with 14 points by going 6-of-12 from the floor.
• Taiye Bello continued her strong play on the glass, pulling down 18 rebounds, including 13 on the defensive side.
• The Gophers held a 31-28 lead with less than two minutes elapsed in the third quarter, but Purdue scored seven straight points and 13 of the next 16 to grab the lead for good.
• Minnesota made it a two-point game when a 3-pointer from Bell cut the deficit to 43-31 to open the scoring in the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers pushed the lead back to six and the Gophers were never able to get closer than four points the rest of the way.
GOPHERS GAINING EXPERIENCE IN NEW ROLES
• Even though two-thirds of Minnesota’s roster consists of upperclassmen, the Gophers actually have the fewest combined career minutes of any roster in the Big Ten, according to research initially done by Nebraska’s Communications office.
• Through Jan. 24, the Gophers’ roster had played a combined 10,041 minutes, while no other team in the league had fewer than 10,400 combined minutes. For further comparison, Rutgers was leading the Big Ten with 16,586 combined minutes, while Monday’s opponent, Ohio State, was in third with 14,995 minutes.
• Not only is the team playing under a new coaching staff, all five members of the starting lineup are playing in different positions than they did a year ago. Among returning starters, Kenisha Bell has gone from the 1 to the 2, while Destiny Pitts moved from the 4 to the 3.
• Meanwhile, Jasmine Brunson (the 1), Taiye Bello (4) and Annalese Lamke (5) are all starting this season after primarily coming off the bench a year ago. As a result, all three have seen significant increases in minutes per game. Lamke leads the team with an increase of 21.6 minutes per game from last year, while Brunson (+18.9) and Bello (+13.6) rank second and third, respectively.
BELLO DOMINATING THE GLASS
• Through Friday, Taiye Bello was second in the country in offensive rebounds per game (5), fourth in total rebounds (236) and fifth in rebounds per game (12.4). She was also 23rd nationally in defensive rebounds per game (7) and 44th in double-doubles (7).
• Bello is the only player in the country to have five games this year with at least 18 rebounds.
• Bello is also currently the most improved rebounder in the Big Ten, upping her rebounds per game total from 6.3 last year to 12.4 this year. The +6.1 difference has her tops in the B1G, ahead of teammate Annalese Lamke who has gone from 0.7 to 6.2 per game (+5.5).
• Bello posted double-doubles in the first three games this season, becoming the first Minnesota player to have three straight double-doubles since Amanda Zahui B. ended the 2014-15 season with four in a row. Bello has 11 in her career, and Minnesota is 10-1 in those games.
• Though she didn’t have a double-double against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in game four, she did have a career-high 19 rebounds, which were the most by a Gopher since Zahui B. had 22 against DePaul in the NCAA Tournament on March 20, 2015.
• Arguably Bello’s best performance came against No. 12 Syracuse when she went for 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, including 10 offensive.
• At Michigan, she made all nine attempts from the floor for a career-high 24 points. She became one of five players in Gophers history to not miss when attempting at least that many shots.
• She also had her first B1G double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds against Iowa, and she pulled down 18 rebounds versus Purdue.
BELL FINISHING STRONG IN SENIOR SEASON
• Senior Kenisha Bell leads the Gophers in several categories, including points per game (18.8), assists per game (4.3) and steals per game (2.05).
• Nationally, Bell is one of the best at getting to the free throw line, ranking fifth in attempts (150) and seventh in makes (102).
• She leads the Big Ten in free throws made, field goals attempted (305), steals (39) and steals per game, ranks second in free throws made and third in scoring average and made field goals (123).
• After being named to preseason watch lists for the Nancy Lieberman Award (nation’s top PG) and Naismith Trophy (nation’s top player), Bell earned spots on midseason watch lists for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
• Bell has also been a three-time Big Ten Player of the Week Honor Roll honoree.
LAMKE MAKING THE MOST OF HER SENIOR YEAR
• Annalese Lamke is making the most of her senior season. She has more recorded more points, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, rebounds and minutes this season alone than in her first three seasons combined.
• Excluding transfers and freshmen, no player among the Big Ten’s top 30 scorers has seen their scoring average increase has much from last year to this as Lamke. Her +10.1 improvement from 1.1 points per game last year to 11.2 this year is nearly double that of Iowa’s Hannah Stewart and Purdue’s Karissa McLaughlin, who are tied for second at +5.1.
• Lamke is also currently the second-most improved rebounder in the conference, jumping from 0.7 per game last year to 6.2 this year, for a difference of +5.5.
• Lamke exploded for a career-high 21 in the Gophers’ season-opening win over New Hampshire. She scored 17 points alone in the second half and recorded an efficient 9-of-12 shooting.
• Against No. 12 Syracuse on Nov. 29, she had a career-high 13 rebounds and nine rebounds. Lamke also had a 20-point outing against Wisconsin on Dec. 28 and scored 18 points (all in the first half) against Illinois on Jan. 6.
• Playing in her home state, she nearly had the first double-double of her career at Wisconsin on Jan. 17, posting 14 points and nine rebounds.
MINNESOTA NEAR THE TOP IN ATTENDANCE
• Through 13 home games, the Gophers have had a total attendance of 75,610 with an average of 5,816 per contest. Through Jan. 25, the team ranks eighth in the country in total attendance and No. 11 in average. Purdue (total attendance of 79,422, average of 6,619) is the only B1G team to rank higher in either category.
• The average per game is the highest for the Gophers since 2007-08 when they averaged 6,596 and it’s nearly 2,700 more than they averaged last year (3,130).
• Minnesota opened the 2018-19 season with a 70-47 win over New Hampshire on Nov. 9. The announced sellout crowd of 14,625 was a program record, surpassing the previous high of 14,363 set during Lindsay Whalen’s senior season in 2004.
• Four of the top five marks in team history, and eight of the top 10, have come with Whalen as a player or coach.
• The season-opening sellout also stands as the highest attendance mark for any women’s game this season by at least 800 people and over 2,500 more than third.
(content and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)