Minnesota women’s basketball opens Big Ten play Wednesday night when it hosts Michigan State (2-0) at 8 p.m. at Williams Arena.
THE OPENING TIP-OFF
• Minnesota is 16-22 all-time in Big Ten openers, including three straight wins, and 19-19 in conference home openers. This season will be the fifth time that the Gophers open league action against Michigan State with the Spartans holding a 3-1 edge in those games. The previous meetings occurred in 1988-89, 2007-08, 2012-13 and 2013-14; the Gophers’ victory came in 2007-08 in East Lansing.
• Jasmine Powell leads the Gophers with a scoring average of 21.5 points per game after scoring 21 in the opener against EIU and adding 22 more against Drake. She’s the first Gopher since Carlie Wagner in 2016-17 to score at least 20 points in each of the first two games in a season. In addition to her scoring prowess, which is currently fifth in the Big Ten (21.5), Powell leads the Big Ten and is fifth nationally in assists per game (7.5), and she is first in the conference in minutes played per game (38.82).
• In the season opener, Kadi Sissoko scored 24 points in her first game at Minnesota to tie a school record for points a debut (Kenisha Bell vs. VCU, 11/15/16). Her 24 points were also the most in a season opener by a Gopher since Carlie Wagner opened the 2016-17 campaign with 27 points against Harvard. Sissoko, who had a career-high eight rebounds in the contest, leads the Big Ten with 5.5 offensive rebounds per game and ranks eighth in rebounds per game (8.5) and 10th in scoring (18.0).
FACING MICHIGAN STATE
• Minnesota and Michigan State meet for the 68th time in their series history Wednesday. The Gophers trail in the all-time matchups 44-23. The teams have alternated wins in each of the last five contests with the home team winning each game.
• In Minneapolis, the Gophers trail the Spartans, 16-15. Minnesota has won two in a row at Williams Arena against Michigan State and three of the last four there.
• Under head coach Lindsay Whalen, the Gophers are 1-2 against the Spartans.
• Minnesota has one Michigan native on its roster. Jasmine Powell hails from Detroit, which is about 90 minutes southeast of East Lansing. She won two state championships at Detroit County Day School, including the 2017 title which took place at Michigan State’s home court, the Breslin Center.
• Michigan State is 2-0 on the season with a 77-44 win over Saint Francis (PA) on Nov. 27 and a 82-45 defeat of Detroit Mercy on Dec. 2.
• Five Spartans are averaging at least 10 points per game with Nia Clouden leading the way at 15.0 points per contest. Kendall Bostic and Taiyier Parks are both at 11.5 points per game, while Alyza Winston (11.0) and Tory Ozment (10.5) are also in double figures.
• Parks is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.5 boards per game, while Clouden is ninth in the country with 7.0 assists per contest.
• As a team, Michigan State leads the nation with 25.5 assists per game, is second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.22), ranks third in points allowed (44.5), is fourth in turnover margin (+14.0), seventh in turnovers forced per game (25.5) and 10th in scoring margin (+35.0).
LAST SEASON AGAINST THE SPARTANS
• Minnesota was tripped up on the road at Michigan State last season, 66-54.
• Jasmine Powell posted a team-high 15 points to go with four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
• Three other Gophers — Masha Adashchyk, Jasmine Brunson and Sara Scalia — all had eight points, while Taiye Bello was the top rebounder with eight boards.
• It was a tight first quarter as neither team led by more than three, and the frame featured four lead changes and two ties. The Spartans held a slight 14-12 lead after the first 10 minutes and continued to maintain the advantage until the Gophers pulled ahead, 23-22, thanks to a 3-pointer from Gadiva Hubbard.
• Minnesota had its first lead since 9-8, but Michigan State countered with a 9-0 run and would not trail the rest of the way.
• Up 31-27 at intermission, the Spartans scored the first five points of the third quarter and 11 of the first 14 to push their lead into double digits. Michigan State led 50-38 with under two minutes to go in the third quarter but the Gophers ended the frame on a small 7-2 run to trail by seven, 52-45, heading to the fourth.
• Down 10 early in the fourth quarter, Powell answered with a field goal and Brunson hit a free throw to get it back to seven with 8:57 to play in the game. That would be as close as Minnesota would get the rest of the way.
LAST TIME IN MINNEAPOLIS
• Last time the teams met in Minneapolis, the Gophers and MSU closed out the 2018-19 regular season against one another, and Minnesota sent off its seniors in style with an 82-63 victory.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)