Coming off a much-needed road win at Nebraska, the IU women’s basketball team returns to Bloomington as it prepares for Minnesota Wednesday night.
The Golden Gophers are coming off two wins against teams that defeated the Hoosiers — Northwestern and No. 21 Rutgers.
It shows the parity of this conference, something IU Coach Teri Moren hopes will aid her team when it comes time for the selection show.
“Everybody is just kind of beating up on each other,” Moren said. “The parody in this league is great and I hope it continues to be that way because I hope come March, when it’s time for the selection show, the Big Ten is represented in the way it should be.”
March aside, Moren and the IU’s focus is on Minnesota right now. Moren said the Gophers are on a roll and coming into Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall with momentum.
Minnesota is led by senior guard Kenisha Bell, who is averaging 18.6 points, 4.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game.
“Kenisha Bell is really good,” Moren said. “She’s playing extremely aggressive on both ends.”
In Bell's two career games against IU, she has averaged 17 points per game. In 2017, Bell scored 23 points, but last season IU sophomore guard Bendu Yeaney held Bell to just 11 points on 4-of-18 shooting. IU took the victory last year 82-70 after Tyra Buss scored 36 points.
Moren said Yeaney will most likely get the task of guarding Bell.
Other players who average in double figures for the Gophers are sophomore guard Destiny Pitts, 13.4, and junior forward Taiye Bello, 10.1. Pitts was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year after averaging 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Moren said Minnesota is balanced, more aggressive on defense and that everything runs through Bell.
For the Hoosiers, their offense has been led by junior guard Ali Patberg for a majority of this season. After struggling to find her rhythm and shot in the team’s previous four games, Patberg looked like her normal self against Nebraska, scoring 22 points.
“As a basketball player you know you’re going to have difficult times and times you don’t play well,” Patberg said. “Personally, I wasn’t shooting well but I still tried to impact the game in ways I could. I have a whole team and coaches that believe in me. Nothing really changed, I just stayed confident.”
Before Nebraska, the team as whole was going through some inconsistent patches, with losses in five of its last seven games mostly plagued by too many turnovers. Against the Cornhuskers, the Hoosiers committed just 12 turnovers.
“The goal for that game was under 12 turnovers,” Patberg said. “We did that and we won. In the past games that we lost that wasn’t the case.”
In the games IU lost, Patberg said it was because of self-inflicted issues. She also mentioned how the team wasn’t as strong mentally. But after seeing how they handled the 3,893 screaming Cornhusker fans Sunday and maintained their lead, Patberg said she feels confident moving forward.
“We had adversity and we still won, and I think that was huge for us to see that we still have that in us,” Patberg said. “At the beginning of the season, there were multiple games that stuff happened, and we persevered. In the games that we did lose we didn’t do that. So, I think to get that back and to know as a team we still have that was huge for us from a confidence standpoint.”
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