If you have paid any attention to the Minnesota Golden Gophers season, you know that the fourth quarter has been a tricky point for this team multiple times in the Big Ten season. Well Thursday night, that was most definitely no the case. Minnesota took a two point lead into the fourth quarter at Purdue and then absolutely dominated the Boilermakers outscoring them 20-2 in the fourth to cruise to a 65-45 win. The win was the Gophers fifth in a row and now brings them back to .500 in the conference at 7-7.
The Gophers and Boilermakers played an even first half. The Gophers shot 67% in the first quarter, but still trailed by one at 15-14 after the first quarter. In the second quarter the Gophers dropped to shoot only 23%, but got to the free throw line nine times and make seven to outscore the Boilermakers 13-9 in the quarter and take a three point lead into the break at halftime.
Purdue jumped out to an early lead in the third quarter with a 6-0 run, but the Gophers clawed back and tied the game once again after Destiny Pitts made the Gophers first three pointer of the game. Purdue then once again went on a mini run, but the Gophers collected themselves and ended the third quarter on an 11-5 run to take a two point lead at 45-43 as they entered the fourth quarter.
Minnesota dominated the fourth quarter both offensively and defensively. Minnesota shot 58% in the fourth quarter. Purdue did not make a single field goal in the fourth quarter shooting 0-11. Their only two points in the quarter came on free throws. The Gophers forced eight of Purdue’s 18 turnovers in the fourth quarter as well. Pitts would score 14 of her 27 points in the fourth quarter—the most by any Gopher in any quarter this season.
Pitts has one of her best games of the season finishing with 27 points. She would score 24 of the 27 in the second half in a very efficient fashion. Pitts was 10-12 from the field, 2-3 from three, and 5-6 from the free throw line. Kenisha bell would add 17 points and nine rebounds as well.
The 20-point win over the Boilermakers tied their largest win over in West Lafayette, and combined with last season’s win at Purdue it is the first time Minnesota has won back to back games at Purdue since 1985. They also avenge a 64-53 loss to the Boilermakers back at the Barn in January.
With their fifth conference win a a row, the Gophers have climbed back up the Big Ten standings. They currently sit at 7-7 which is good enough for seventh place in the conference tied with Purdue and Ohio State. However, the Gophers are just one game back of Michigan and Northwestern who are tied for fourth place at 8-6. The Gophers have four games left in the regular season to fight their way into a better seed for the conference tournament, and to earn some RPI points back to get back into NCAA Tournament discussion. The Gophers will host a 3-10 Penn State team on Sunday in a must win before headed to the road for two games against nationally ranked teams in Maryland and Rutgers. The Gophers then finish the regular season at home against Michigan State.
Sunday’s game against the Nittany Lions tips off at 1PM. It is the Gophers annual Think Pink game and will air live on BTN.