The Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team upset their first ranked team in nearly two years when they beat the #20 Iowa Hawkeyes 77-72 at Williams Arena on Sunday. The Gophers bumped their record to 16-5 and 5-3 in the Big Ten, matching their 2016-17 win total with ten regular season games remaining. Minnesota was led by Kenisha Bell who had another double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The first quarter found the teams trading baskets until a late Iowa lead up them up 20-15. Minuteness would answer with the last four points of the quarter closing the Hawkeye lead to just one by the end of the first. Bell would score six of her 21 points in the first quarter to lead the Gophers.
The second quarter played out much like the first with Iowa going on a run to stretch their lead to eight with just over two minutes to play in the first half. Minnesota could answer once again scoring eight of the last ten points of the half and cutting Iowa’s lead to 38-37 at the break.
The Gophers first took control of the game in the third quarter. Minnesota outscored the Hawkeyes 19-14 in the period resulting in 56-52 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
Minnesota tried to put the game out of reach early in the fourth as they took an eight point lead, but Iowa would not give u. They would go on a 9-0 run to regain the lead at 67-66 with 2:53 to play. They key down the stretch is that Minnesota would win the game at the free throw line. The Gopher were 9-of-10 from the stripe in the fourth quarter and 15-of-19 at the line for the game. Minnesota hit their last six down the stretch as Iowa tried to come back to no avail and hung on for a 77-72 win.
The win over Iowa was the first win over a ranked team since the Gophers took out #5 Ohio State 90-88 in overtime on Feb. 24, 2016. The win also lifted the Gophers RPI up to #40 in the nation which would put them safely in the NCAA Tournament as of today.
Bell’s 21 points and 11 rebound was her fifth double-double of the season, tying freshman Destiny Pitts for the most on the team. Senior Carlie Wagner added 15 points, including 11 in the second half, while Pitts finished with 11 points and a career-high three blocks. The Gophers also added two other players in double figures as sophomore Taiye Bello scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 23 minutes. and senior Bryanna Fernstrom added 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Gophers now get a bye week as they will not return to action until January 31st when they head to Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers. Minnesota defeated Wisconsin by 25 points last week at Williams Arena.