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Minnesota Womens Basketball: Gophers Move up to #14 in AP Poll

It’s the Gophers highest ranking since 2006

Kenisha Bell and Destiny Pitts are two reasons why the Gophers are 7-0

Coming off of their impressive win over #12 Syracuse in the Women’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge last Thursday, the Minnesota Golden Gophers had no let down effect as they took out Air Force Sunday afternoon at the Barn 67-50. The win moves the Gophers to 7-0 on the season and on Monday the AP voters rewarded them ranking them #14 in the newest poll.

As the tweet above says, their #14 ranking is the highest the program has been since being ranked #1 in February of 2006. Not too shabby.

On Sunday the Gophers seemed to fair better in the even numbered quarters. The Gophers and Falcons were tied at 11 after the first quarter, but the Gophers would dominate the second outscoring Air Force 19-5 in the period to take a 14 point lead to the break. Minnesota dominated scoring ten points in the paint and scoring nine points off of Air Force turnovers in the second period. Kenisha Bell would score 15 points in the first half to lead Minnesota.

Air Force would get back four points in the third quarter to cut the Gopher lead to 10, and would start the fourth off with a bang on a 7-0 run reducing the Gopher lead down to three points with 7:55 to play. But just like in the Syracuse game, the Gophers would come together and figure it out down the stretch. in the next five minutes the Gophers would go on a 21-3 run, and would end the game on a 25-4 run to put away the Falcons and move to 7-0.

Bell would lead the Gophers in scoring with 27 points, and finished one rebound shy of her third consecutive double-double. her 12 points in the second quarter were the most by any Gopher this season, and she is the only player for Minnesota to finish in double figures in every game so far. On the other side, double-double machine Taiye Bello only scored four points but recorded 18 rebounds for the second consecutive game. It was her fourth game of the year with at least 18 rebounds, and she is one of just two players in the country and the only Power 5 player to have more than three games of 18 or more rebounds this season in the entire NCAA.

The entire Gopher team had a rebounding field day as their 54 rebounds on the game were a season high, as were their 19 offensive rebounds. Whalen was much more relaxed with her bench and lineup on Sunday giving playing time to ten players and keeping Bell on the court for just 33 minutes.

Minnesota has one more home game at the Barn before they hit the road once more. Wednesday at Noon The Gophers will host Incarnate Word for their annual Field Trip Day game. Minnesota will have its next major test on Sunday when they head to Boston for a game at Boston College. BC is 7-1 on the season with their lone loss to Providence. They play an uptempo offense and average nearly 81 points per game, and have four players averaging double figures.