Minnesota defeated Iowa in the Barn last night 93-80. The Gophers improved to 21-6 on the year and 10-5 in conference play. The Gophers were on fire from the field for most of the first half, and increased their lead in the second. Minnesota is now tied for 4th in conference play heading into the final weeks, and is still in position for both a bye in the Big Ten Tournament and an NCAA Tournament birth. The Gophers have 21 wins for the first time since 2004-05 and 10 wins in conference for the first time since 2009.
The story of the night was the play of Amanda Zahui B. She had a career night with 39 points and 29 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 blocks, and 2 assists. For reference, ESPN Stats states that the last player to have at least 39 points and 29 rebounds in an NBA game was Moses Malone in 1979. The last two men's players in college to have a 35-20 game? Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant. Jill Alleyne of Oregon had a 30 point, 25 rebound performance earlier this year. 29 rebounds in a game is a new Big Ten record and is the 7th best effort in NCAA history. Perhaps as importantly, Zahui only committed one foul the entire game, meaning that she was able to stay on the floor to defend Iowa's Bethany Doolittle the entire game.
It's hard to overstate just how high Zahui's ceiling is. After last night's game, she already has 1,000 points in her career and she is only a sophomore. In addition to clear height advantages Zahui has developed an outside jumper to go along with a strong post game. She is 2nd in the conference and 22nd in the nation in block rate, and is a top 25 player in conference in steal rate. The Gophers have much to play for this season, but next year has the potential to be very special if Zahui keeps improving.
Zahui B. wasn't the only scorer for the Gophers. Carlie Wagner started the game 4-5 from three-point range. She finished with 17 points on 5-12 shooting (5-6 from deep) and added 6 assists. Wagner's improvement throughout the year has been noticeable, and she is developing into an excellent scorer and second option for the team.
The Gophers next play Michigan at the Barn on February 21st.