Minnesota defeated Wisconsin 74-56 on Saturday at Williams Arena. With the win, the Gophers move to 12-0 on the season, matching their second best start in program history. Kenisha Bell led all scorers with 17 points.
Two major storylines from this game were the general incompetence of Wisconsin and the inability of Minnesota to score efficiently. Wisconsin is a bad basketball team. Their best win of the season was against a bad Pittsburgh team, and I would be surprised if they were anywhere other than near the bottom of the conference this season. Minnesota’s defense was more than up to the task of controlling and throttling the Badgers’ offense. Wisconsin had almost as many turnovers as made field goals, and quite a few of those turnovers were self-inflicted.
Minnesota’s offense continues to struggle shooting the ball, which is a thrilling problem to have. Perhaps there is something in the food in Athlete’s Village. The Gophers were 27-68 from the field and just 4-16 from behind the line. Kenisha Bell was 7-26 from the field, 1-5 from behind the line, and 2-6 from the free throw line. That is a heinous stat line, especially from one of your star players. Destiny Pitts was 5-14 from the field and 1-7 from three point range. Fortunately, Wisconsin is an awful basketball team, but that kind of offensive performance will lose games against teams with any level of competence.
The biggest problem with that offensive performance (besides the level of offensiveness) is that Lindsay Whalen still does not trust the majority of her bench. Until Gadiva Hubbard returns, the Gophers are six deep, and the sixth woman is Mercedes Staples. Taiye Bello continues to be a solid contributor and Annalese Lamke has been a pleasant surprise this season, but the Gophers need another big to step up and contribute from the bench to make a deep run this season.