Minnesota earned a split last week with a win over Illinois and loss to Iowa. The Gophers are now 11-9 on the season and just 2-5 in conference play. Carlie Wagner continues to provide scoring, but the Gophers as a whole have had difficulty efficiently playing offense and defending.
The Illinois win was a nice return to form for the Gophers. Minnesota blew out the Illini 78-50, and the score was probably closer than it should have been. Wagner passed Debbie Hunter to sit in 11th place on the all time Minnesota scoring list. Kenisha Bell added 19 points and 11 assists.
Minnesota is now 9-2 at home this season. If you do some basic math, you’ll note that the team is very good at home and miserable on the road. That proved to be the case against Iowa, where the Gophers lost 80-65. Minnesota had a one point lead at the half, but went cold from the field for most of the second half as the Hawkeyes surged to a 15 point win. Gadiva Hubbard led the Gophers with 18 points, and Wagner had 16.
Unsurprisingly, the Gophers have moved out of the NCAA picture and need to do a lot of work to make the Tournament. The Gophers rank near the bottom of the Big Ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and continue to struggle mightily in both on the road. Given Minnesota’s penchant for tempo and the offseason workouts, I do not think it is because the team lacks heart or effort. Rather, Stollings’ scheme simply is not working this year. While I think Stollings’ job is safe for now, another NCAA Tournament miss should put her on the hot seat next year.
Minnesota’s next game is at home against Ohio State on Thursday, Jan. 26.