On Friday, No. 23 Minnesota took on the Cornell Big Red just one day after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Gophers (5-0) beat Cornell 65-45 in another dominating performance.
“I thought our first half we got off to a nice start” said head coach Lindsay Whalen after the game. “Defensively, we held them to 31 percent from the field.”
The Gophers’ offensive system showed promise as well. “Obviously, we’d like to shoot a little bit of a better percentage, but we took care of the ball tonight, which was good,” said Whalen.
Minnesota’s dominance in 2018 continued as the team started the game on a 19-2 run.
Senior Kenisha Bell finished with 18 points in the game, while Destiny Pitts had 11 points and Taiye Bello added eight points and two blocks.
After one half, Minnesota lead by a score of 40 to 16. The Gophers ultimately grabbed the win by a final score of 65 to 45 in a game in which Cornell was unable to match Minnesota’s energy. At one point in the third quarter, the Gophers held a 33 point lead over the Big Red.
“I thought getting rebounds … and buckets in transition helped us kind of speed the game up a little more,” said Bell. “They were trying to slow us down with the press, and so getting a rebound and going in transition … I thought that was really important to this game.”
Minnesota plays against the Syracuse Orange next at home on Thursday. Whalen was already looking ahead to the big game after Friday’s win over the Big Red.
“The next game is the most important game on the schedule. And it’s the most important game of the season, because it’s the next game … no matter who it is,” said Whalen. “Tonight was our most important game of the season, and we were able to get the win so we feel good about that. Now, we will turn the page towards Syracuse, and we’ll make sure that we’re ready for them.”
The Syracuse-Minnesota game will be a part of the 2018 ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge, and several of the Gophers women’s basketball players have been looking forward to it all season long. Syracuse is currently ranked No. 14 in the country, while Minnesota is ranked No. 23. On Friday, Syracuse also took on an Ivy League school when it beat the Princeton Tigers 92 to 61.
After playing three games in six days, Whalen will now have six days to prepare her team for the Orange after beating the Big Red.
“It’s nice we have some time now. We have some practices that we can really start to focus in on Syracuse … three or four practices where we have some time to really get ready for them,” said Whalen.