No. 23/20 Minnesota (12-4, 1-4 B1G) held an eight-point lead at halftime but couldn’t hang on in the second half in an 81-63 loss to No. 22/17 Iowa (12-4, 3-2) Monday night at Williams Arena.
Senior Kenisha Bell was one of three in double figures for the Golden Gophers, recording her team-best eighth game this season of at least 20 points as she scored 22 against the Hawkeyes. Now with 1,442 points in her Gophers career, Bell passed Carol Peterka (1,441) for 11th in Minnesota history. Bell needs seven more points to crack the top 10.
Junior Taiye Bello produced her seventh double-double of the season, and first in conference play, with 12 points and 12 rebounds. She has seven of the team’s nine double-doubles this season and has 11 in her career. Monday night was the first time the Gophers had lost when she had at least 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Destiny Pitts broke out of a mini-scoring slump with 16 points Monday, her highest point total since Big Ten play started. She entered the game averaging 9.0 points per contest in league play. After hitting three 3-pointers in the previous four games combined, Pitts made four against Iowa Monday night. She also led the team with four assists and matched a career high with three steals.
Iowa was led by Megan Gustafson’s 34 points and 13 rebounds, while Tania Davis scored 21.
Down 26-21 with 8:31 to play in the second quarter, Minnesota scored eight straight points and outscored Iowa 17-4 over the next seven minutes to pull ahead 38-30 and lead 40-32 at halftime. In outscoring Iowa 21-9 in the frame, Minnesota held the Hawkeyes to their lowest point total in any quarter this season.
Unfortunately, the eight-point lead couldn’t hold up as the third quarter began. Iowa scored the first six points and 20 of the next 23 to grab a 52-43 lead with 2:45 to play in the third. A three-point play from Bello got the Gophers within six at 54-48 with under a minute to play in the quarter, but that would be as close as Minnesota would get the rest of the way.
The Hawkeyes opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run to lead 65-51 with 8:24 remaining. The deficit grew to 15 before the Gophers got within 10 at 72-62 with 3:10 to play after a basket by senior Annalese Lamke. Iowa, however, closed the game on a 9-1 run.
Minnesota looks to snap its four-game losing streak Thursday night when it plays at Wisconsin (10-7, 1-4).
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sport)