In the second of two games between the teams this season, Minnesota (14-8, 4-7 B1G) visits Wisconsin (11-11, 3-8) Thursday night. The game, which starts at 7 p.m.
THE OPENING TIP-OFF
• Minnesota is 5-3 this season in road games, outscoring teams by an average of 70-64. The Gophers opened the season with four straight road wins for hte seventh longest such streak in program history. Sara Scalia is the team’s top scorer on the road this year at 14.0 points per game, while Taiye Bello is not far behind her at 13.7 points and a team-best 10.3 rebounds per road contest. Gadiva Hubbard is also in double figures away from home this year at 11.5 points per game.
• Senior Taiye Bello has posted 11 double-doubles this year. She had a stretch of four straight at toward the end of the non-conference and now has three straight and four in her last five games. She also has had five other performances this year where she was either one point or one rebound away from a double-double. Her 11 double-doubles lead the Big Ten and are 13th nationally. In her career, Bello has 26 double-doubles to rank sixth in Gophers history, and the Gophers are 22-4 in those games. Through Monday’s games, she is one of just 18 players nationally, and the only one from the Big Ten, with her averages of 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this year.
• Bello had arguably the best game of her career Sunday in a double overtime win over Rutgers as she grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds and scored 19 points. It tied for the fifth most rebounds in a game in program history and tied for 10th most in Big Ten annals. It was the highest rebound total for a Gopher since Amanda Zahui B. also had 22 against DePaul in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Offensively, Bello was 15-of-19 at the free throw line, recording the second most free throw attempts in program history and tying for the second most makes. Both numbers were also the most by a Big Ten player this year.
• After coming off the bench for her first 19 games, freshman Jasmine Powell has started each of the last three contests and is thriving. She made her first career start on Jan. 27 at Indiana, scoring a team-high 15 points while playing all 40 minutes. She followed that on Thursday by tying a career high with 19 points and adding seven rebounds, four steals and three assists, then recorded 19 points, five rebounds and four assists while playing over 47 minutes against Rutgers Sunday. As a reserve through 19 games, Powell was averaging 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals while playing 20.3 minutes per game. In her three games as a starter, Powell is posting 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals while playing 41.7 minutes per game.
Powell has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week and she visited with MNN Sports Director Mike Grimm:
• Minnesota and Wisconsin meet for the 79th time on Thursday. That will tie the Gophers’ series with Iowa for their most meetings against one opponent.
• With a 72-62 loss on Jan. 22, the Gophers saw their 13-game win streak in the series snapped. It was the longest ever for either team in the series and was the Gophers’ second longest all-time against one team. Only a 16-0 stretch against Northwestern from Feb. 2000 to Jan. 2009 was longer.
• Minnesota is 16-18 all-time at Wisconsin, their most road wins against one program. The Gophers have won six in a row in Madison, not losing at the Kohl Center since Jan. 9, 2011. The average score in those games has been 71-59.
• The six game road win streak in the series is Minnesota’s longest active versus one school ahead of five in a row at Northern Iowa.
• Owning a 2-1 mark against Wisconsin, a win Thursday would mark the first time Lindsay Whalen has beaten a team three times in her coaching career.
• For the first time since the 2014-15 season, Minnesota has no Wisconsinites on its roster. Conversely, Wisconsin has four Minnesotans on its roster: Carmen Backes from Lindstrom (Chisago Lakes HS), Courtney Fredrickson from Minnetonka (Minnetonka HS), Suzanne Gilreath from Brooklyn Park (Fridley HS) and Sara Stapleton from Blaine (Centennial HS).
• Wisconsin enters the game 11-11 on the season and 3-8 in Big Ten play. The Badgers started the year with wins in five of its first six games, but then went 4-8 over their next 12 games. Since then, UW has gone 2-2.
• Imani Lewis leads Wisconsin in scoring and rebounding with 15.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Abby Laszewski is second to Lewis in both points (11.3) and rebounds (6.7) per contest, while Sydney Hillard is also in double figures at 10.0 per game.
EARLIER THIS SEASON AGAINST THE BADGERS
• Minnesota saw its 13-game win streak over Wisconsin come to an end in a 72-62 loss on Jan. 22.
• Four players reached double figures for Minnesota with Jasmine Brunson and Gadiva Hubbard leading the way with 12 points each. Jasmine Powell pitched in with 11 points off the bench, while Sara Scalia added 10 points.
• Taiye Bello was one point away from a double-double as she finished with 13 rebounds and nine points.
• Wisconsin, which was led by Imani Lewis’ 23 points and 16 rebounds, led 20-14 after the first quarter, but the Gophers turned it on in the second and outscored the Badgers 23-14 in the stanza highlighted by an 11-2 run.
• Unfortunately Minnesota couldn’t keep the momentum up in the second half as Wisconsin held a 19-8 edge in the third quarter. Tied at 45-45 with 5:18 to play in the frame, Wisconsin closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run and led 53-45 entering the fourth. Minnesota would get as close as five midway through the final frame.
LAST TIME IN MADISON
• Minnesota defeated Wisconsin, 78-50, when the teams met last season in Madison on Jan. 17.
• Kenisha Bell posted a double-double with 25 points and 10 assists. Two others almost had double-doubles, as well, as Annalese Lamke had 15 points and nine rebounds, while Taiye Bello contributed 14 points and nine boards.
• The Gophers never trailed in the game, scoring the first five points of the contest and opening the game on an 11-2 run. They led 17-10 after the first quarter and then outscored the Badgers 18-7 in the second quarter to lead 35-17 at the half.
• The Minnesota defense forced 16 Wisconsin turnovers in the game, including six in the first quarter alone and 10 in the first half.
• Wisconsin never got closer than 16 points in the second half, while the Gophers’ biggest lead came on a 3-pointer by Mercedes Staples that put them up 74-41 with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)