The Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball team will need to go on an epic run through the Big Ten Tournament if they want to have any chance of making the NCAA Tournament in Lindsay Whalen’s first season in charge. That route begins Thursday night when the seventh seeded Gophers will take on tenth seeded Indiana in a second round matchup. It will be a rematch of the teams one game this season a 65-61 win by the Gophers in Bloomington.
The Gophers ended up with the seventh seed in the Big Ten Tournament after finishing the conference season with a 9-9 record after a Senior Day win over Michigan State. That was good enough to be in a four-way tie for sixth place, and due to the various tiebreakers Nebraska got the sixth seed, Minnesota the seventh, Northwestern the eighth, and Michigan State the ninth. Northwestern and MSU will square off in another second round matchup while Nebraska plays 11 seed Purdue who eliminated 14 seed Illinois in a first-round matchup Wednesday.
Minnesota will be looking to win its first ever Big Ten Tournament. The Gophers are 10-25 all-time in tournament play and are the #7 seed for the first time. The Gophers have won at least one Big Ten Tournament game in four of the last five seasons, and since the advent of the current format of the tournament with fourteen teams the Gophers are 2-1 in the second round with wins over Purdue and Penn State in 2015 and 2017 and a loss to Northwester in 2016. The Gophers had a bye into the quarterfinals a year ago and defeated Iowa before losing to Ohio State in the semifinal. Minnesota is 1-1 all time against the Hooisers in the Big Ten Tournament winning in 2006, and losing in 2001.
The Gophers will look to build on their 65-61 win over Indiana back in February. In what has been a common occurrence this season the Gophers had a ten point lead after three quarters and watched the Hoosiers claw back and cut the lead to two with just thirty seconds left in the game. Minnesota hit their free throws down the stretch and did not blow the lead in this game. Kenisha Bell lead all scorers with 22 points and she recorded 11 of per points from the free throw line. Destiny Pitts finished with 17 points and was 8-9 from the charity stripe. Irene Garrido Perez was a perfect 4-4 from the floor including 3-3 from beyond the arc.
For Indiana Jaylynn Penn had 18 points, and Bendu Yeany added 12. Indiana was just 3-15 from beyond the arc, so Minnesota will need to make sure that Indiana does not find its stroke on Thursday. The Hoosiers worked the ball inside and scored 34 of their 61 points in the paint. It will be up Taiye Bello to try and play good post D without getting into foul trouble on Thursday.
Penn and Ali Patberg were both named Second team All Big Ten for the Hoosiers on Monday. The Gophers did a good job containing Patberg and holding her to just eight points in their first meeting.
The winner of the Minnesota/ Indiana game will advance to play #2 seed Iowa on Friday evening. The Hawkeyes are led by two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson and will be a tough matchup for either team.
HOW TO WATCH
B1G WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT—2ND ROUND
#7 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs #10 Indiana Hoosiers
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
When: 5:30 PM Thursday
Radio: 96.7 FM; I Heart Radio App