Kenisha Bell, Destiny Pitts, and Taiye Bello were all honored with end of the season Big Ten Awards when they were announced on Monday. Bell was named First Team All-Big Ten by both the media and the coaches for the second year in a row. She also was named to the All-Defensive team for the second season in a row. Pitts was named First Team All-Big Ten by the media and was named second team by the coaches. Bello was named an honorable mention.
Bell made it two years in a row that she was a consensus All-Big Ten honoree and an all-defensive honoree as well. Bell was a unanimous selection to the first team by the Big Ten coaches. She is only the second Gopher besides Amanda Zahui B. to be named to the all-defensive team two years in a row.
Bell leads the Gophers with 18.9 points per game and is also averaging 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. She leads the Big Ten in steals with 59, free throws made with 159 and free throws attempted with 230. Additionally she is second in the conference in field goals made with 188 and field goals attempted with 470. Nationally, she’s fourth in the country in free throws attempted, eighth in free throw made, 24th in field goal attempts and 41st in points per game.
Pitts was named All-Big Ten first team by the media and second team by the coaches. A season ago she was named to the second team by the media and honorable mention by the coaches, along with being the Big Ten freshman of the Year.
This season Pitts is second on the team at 15.7 points per game along with averaging 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. She is second in the Big Ten in free throw percentage at 81.7% and in 3-pointers attempted with 202. She has been on a roll for the Gophers at the end of the season scoring at least 21 points in each of the last six games, averaging 24.0 points per game over that span while shooting 48.9 percent from the floor, 43.4 percent on 3-pointers and 91.2 percent on free throws.
Bello was named honorable mention by both the media and coaches. She leads the team with 12.4 rebounds per game which also ranks second in the conference. Bello adds 9.6 points and 1.5 blocks per contest. But she is known for being a rebounding machine. She is third in the country in offensive rebounds per game with five, seventh in total rebounds with 359 and rebounds per game, and 19th in defensive rebounds per game with eight.
The Gophers ended the regular season on Senior Day with a big 82-63 win over Michigan State on Sunday at the Barn. It was the last regular season home game for Bell, Analise Lamke, Irine Garrido-Perez and Palma Kaposi. Bell went out with a bang by scoring 23 points and added eight rebounds and four assists. She was a perfect 10-of-10 at the charity stripe.
Pitts led the Gophers with 26 points also going 10-10 from the free throw line. Minnesota as a team was an insane 31-32 for the game from the charity stripe.
After the game on Sunday, the Gophers found out they will be the #7 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota will open up play on Thursday against #10 seed Indiana. The game will tip off at 5:30 PM and will air live on BTN.
If the Gophers win they will advance to play #2 Iowa and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson.
The Gophers will need to win four games in four days to win the Big Ten Tournament if they want to make the NCAA Tournament in LInsday Whalen’s first year as Gopher coach. The Gophers saw their RPI rise to the teens after starting the season undefeated in the non-conference, but after struggling in the Big Ten their RPI dropped significantly. A big comeback to get to 9-9 in the conference helped some, but dropping several games they should have won will still have an effect. Minnesota’s RPI sits at 99 heading into the tournament after being dragged down by a 130 strength of schedule rank this season.