The home stand is over.
After playing five of its last six games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the women’s basketball team hits the road once again for the last two games of the 2017-18 regular season.
First on the docket, the Hoosiers will travel to Minneapolis to take on the Golden Gophers of Minnesota.
IU is coming off one of its biggest wins of the season after defeating Nebraska on senior day Saturday, but Minnesota will pose one of the Hoosiers’ toughest tests of the second half of their Big Ten season.
While IU comes in riding off the momentum of seven straight wins that began with their victory at Michigan State on Jan. 20, the Gophers have been just as hot as of late. They’ve won their last four games and have the best record in the Big Ten over their last 10 games at 8-2.
Williams Arena has been unfriendly to visitors this season as well. Minnesota is 13-1 at home and come in to Tuesday’s contest at 21-6 overall.
One thing IU will have to prepare for is the fast-paced, high-octane offense of the Gophers. They currently have the Big Ten’s highest-scoring offense, averaging 85.5 points per game, which is also good for third highest in the entire country. They also average 9.3 made 3-pointers a game, which is also top in the conference.
Leading that offense is junior guard Kenisha Bell, who is the team’s leading scorer at 19.7 points per game and shoots 43 percent from the field. She also leads the conference in assists and steals at 6.6 and 2.7 per game respectively. Senior guard Carlie Wagner also contributes to the high-scoring backcourt, averaging 17.6 points and shooting 43 percent from three-point range for third best in the Big Ten. Wagner is also coming off being named last week’s co-Big Ten Player of the Week alongside Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell.
Likewise, freshman guard Destiny Pitts is coming off an award of her own from last week. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for a school record seventh time this season after averaging 15 points and 10.7 rebounds on the week. On the season, Pitts is averaging 13.2 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Gadiva Hubbard, who contributes 13.7 points and senior center Jessie Edwards will round out the likely starting lineup. Meanwhile, sophomore forward Taiye Bello averages 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds off the bench, while senior center Bryanna Fernstrom and sophomore guard Jasmine Brunson provide depth off the bench as well.
While slowing down Minnesota’s offense will be a priority for IU, the Hoosiers are coming off a high-scoring performance as well. They had their second-highest scoring game of the season by dropping 83 on Nebraska in Bloomington.
Senior guard Tyra Buss had a season-high 37 points in that win and freshman guard Jaelynn Penn tied her career-high with 21 points. Senior forward Amanda Cahill also contributed 16 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.
While IU had one of their best offensive performances of the season against Nebraska, IU Coach Teri Moren said her team’s defense was still the best aspect of the win. A similar performance will be key to getting their eighth straight victory.
“I thought our defensive performance was really good,” Moren said. “Tyra and Jaelynn were phenomenal offensively but we won that game because we had another big performance defensively.”
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