The Minnesota Gophers women’s basketball team will try to defeat the old adage that it tough to defeat a team three times in one season. The Gophers open up play in the Big ten Tournament as the #12 overall seed against #13 Penn State at 1PM on Wednesday afternoon at the Target Center. Minnesota is 2-0 this season against Penn State defeating the Nittany Lions 98-96 in double OT to open Big Ten play at the Barn back in December, and 75-67 in Happy Valley back in January.
Minnesota has not had the season that they had hoped for in Lindsay Whalen’s fifth season with the Gophers completing the regular season with a 11-18 overall record and just a 4-14 record in Big Ten play. Minnesota has been playing four freshman regular minutes and Gophers fan got a bit of good news in the Star Tribune this past weekend in a story by Kent Youngblood that stated that all of Minnesota’s freshmen already have leases for apartments for next year. That’s obviously no guarantee that players might take another exodus out of Minneapolis, but it’s one more point showing that these players appear to be all in in coming back to Dinkytown next fall and trying to build on their freshman seasons.
Minnesota can continue the good feelings by defeating Penn State yet again and making it two day two of the Big Ten Tournament in front of a large collection of their fans. When the Big Ten Tournament was announced to the target Center, it was hoped the Gophers would play a larger role, but now they face the possibility of being one and done on day one and watching the last four days just minutes from their own campus.
The Gophers were led by two different players in the previous games against PSU. IN the double OT thriller it was freshman Mara Braun making her presence known to the conference. Braun scored 26 points in the thriller and was a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line with many coming in the fourth quarter and the overtimes. In the win at Penn State the Gophers got a career high performance from sophomore forward Rose Micheaux who went for 31 points and 14 rebounds in the win.
On defense the Gophers have one main job—stop Penn State’s Makenna Marisa. The 5’11 senior led the Nittany Lions in scoring in both games with 34 in the 2 OT loss in the barn and 25 in the loss in Pennsylvania. She was 7-10 from behind the arc in the first game and it will be on the Gophers to mark her and not allow her to get free.
The winner of Wednesday’s game advances to play #5 seed Michigan in the second game of the afternoon session on Thursday starting at about 3:00 PM.
Wednesday’s game tips at 1:00 PM and will air live on Big Ten Network.
Good luck to the Gophers!