Minnesota defeated Penn State 81-74 in Happy Valley to open Big Ten play 1-0. The Gophers jumped out to a massive lead before nearly letting the Nittany Lions mount a late comeback. Sara Scalia led all scorers with 22 points.
The Gophers scored 28 points in the first quarter and shot ~74% from the floor to get out to an 18 point lead. They led by as many as 35 during the second quarter. Scalia had 10 of her 22 points in the first quarter and 15 of those 22 points in the first half. Destiny Pitts had 14 of her 15 of her 21 points in the first half. I do not want to overstate just how much of a blowout I expected this game to be as the third quarter starter.
During the third quarter, the Gophers promptly decided to fall asleep and score just eight points, their lowest quarter output of the season. Penn State continued to cut the lead during the fourth quarter to single digits. All told, the Big Ten opener saw both the highest highs that the Gophers can play and the lowest lows. Last season, a major problem for Minnesota was losing focus late in the game. We attributed much of that to problems with depth. Going forward this season, Lindsay Whalen will have to make sure that her team does not succumb to similar problems.
Minnesota shot 56% from behind the arc. That is stupendous.
Minnesota shot only 61% from the foul line. That is horrendous.
Taiye Bello nearly picked up another double double, finishing with nine points and ten rebounds. Her sister Kehinde Bello had a career high seven rebounds. Bello power.