B1G Game 4: Gophers Host Northwestern (1-9-20)

Ignatius L Hoops

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GO BIG or GO SMALL?

Northwestern (2-1) opened the B1G season with an easy 77-50 victory over Illinois in Champaign. The Illini led 15-14 at the end of the first quarter. Then Northwestern, behind guard Lindsey Pulliam’s 27 points, pulled away. Center Abbie Wolf provided the inside muscle with 18 points and 10 rebounds. It was a nice opener for Joe McKeown’s crew; but, ho-hum, it was their ninth straight win over the hapless Illini.

A few days later, on New Year’s Eve, a true champagne celebration ensued. Northwestern ran B1G favorite, Maryland, out of Welsh-Ryan and into the Evanston night routing the Terps 81-58. Once again, Pulliam led the ‘Cats with 24 points (9 in the first half). In this game she was joined by fellow guard Veronica Burton with 23 points (8 in the first half). Free throws were a story. Northwester was 31-38 from the line aided by Pulliam and Burton combining to go 24-25. Maryland was 18-22 from the charity stripe. From behind the arc, Northwestern was 6-12 while the Terps were 4-18. The ‘Cats jumped on the Terps early taking an 18-6 first quarter lead. Northwestern did similar damage in the third quarter outscoring Brenda Frese’s team 26-13. It was Northwestern’s first win over Maryland.

Now the Anticlimax:

Today, in Evanston, the ‘Cats got the Full Hawkeye. A classic Iowa lock down zone coupled with the Hawkeye’s spread the court, inside/outside, move the ball offense defeated Northwestern 51-77. Northwestern’s zone wasn’t even a slight annoyance to Iowa who were 9-14 bombing threes while the Wildcats were 4-21. Inside, the 6’4” Wolfe, 2 points and 2 rebounds, and 6’2” Scheid, 7 points and 5 rebounds, were no match for the Hawkeyes 6’3” Moniko Czinano, 21 points and 5 rebounds, and 6’1” Amanda Ollinger, 11 points and 12 rebounds. Outside for Northwestern there was only Pulliam, 25 points and Burton with 10.

Of Note: The only Wildcat non-conference loss was to DePaul in Evanston. Northwestern took a 68-65 lead with 1:36 remaining before DePaul rallied to win 70-68.

Last Seasons Games:

Last season Minnesota defeated Northwestern twice. The first match-up in Evanston was a 61-54 Gopher win. And it was notable because, desiring to turn around a 2-7 start to the Gopher season, Lindsay went small ball and used a short rotation. Pitts and Bell played 40 minutes, Brunson 38, Perez 33 and Taiye Bello (limited by foul trouble) 18. Lamke came off the bench for 18 minutes as did Staples 7 and Kaposi 5. Rejuvenated, the Gophers embarked on a six game win streak. Now, following this season’s 1-2 start and Whalen saying in post Nebraska radio interview that we will get more Kehinde there is speculation whether Lindsay will go BIG against the ‘Cat. (Or at least our version of B1G).

Ten days later, in Minneapolis, the small ball lineup prevailed again for a 73-64 Gopher overtime win. The minutes played by the Gophers, obviously, went up: Pitts and Brunson each played 45, Taiye Bello 44, Perez 39 and Bell (limited by foul trouble) 38. Lamke 13 and Kaposi 1, came off the bench.

A big concern for the small ball Gophers going into both contests was how to battle the now graduated, inside beast, Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. In game one PKA put up 14 points and 11 rebounds; in game two PKA produced 6 points, 8 rebounds and 8 turnovers. Of course, it was the Minnesota’s guards time to shine. In Welsh-Ryan it was Pitts with 19 points, Bell 17 and Brunson 14. In Williams it was Bell with 24 points, Pitts 21 and Brunson with another 14.

As has become all too familiar, the overtime game in Williams featured a late Northwestern run in regulation. Minnesota led 54-49 with 5:10 remaining in the fourth. Then we watched the Wildcats spurt to the lead with a 9-0 run. However, the Gophers rallied and Bell’s layup tied the game with 8 seconds to go. Four seconds later, Northwestern’s Abi Scheid was fouled, went to the line, and stunningly clanked both free throws. In OT Minnesota regained control for a nine point win. It was the Gophers fourth straight win over Northwestern. The last loss to the Wildcats was in the B1G tournament in 2016.

WNIT

Like Minnesota, Northwestern finished 9-9 in the B1G last season and accepted the WNIT invite. Unlike the Gophers, The ‘Cats battled their way to the championship game losing to the Arizona Wildcats 42-56 in Tucson.

Northwestern’s Lineup

The starting lineup has been consistent: Pulliam, Scheid, Veronica Burton, Abbie Wolf and Sydney Wood. Joe McKeown has not dipped deeply into the bench.

Probable Starters (B1G Stats):

HgtPosClPlayerMinPtsReb
5’10”GJrLindsey Pulliam34.025.36.0
5’9”GSoVeronica Burton33.713.04.3
6’2”F/CSrAbi Scheid35.010.06.0
6’4”F/CSrAbbie Wolf26.310.06.0
5’11”GSoSydney Wood29.05.04.3


The Bench (B1G Stats):

HgtPosClPlayerMinPtsReb
5’8”GJrJordan Hamilton20.02.71.7
6’0”FSoCourtney Shaw10.32.01.0
5’8”GSrByrdy Galernik7.31.30.7
 

Katogopher

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Gophers really don’t have a “good win” in terms of NCAA Aspirations but this could qualify, I think NW will be a top 4 BIG team. Already a must win? Perhaps in terms of their own confidence And protecting their home court. Diva hasn’t quite found her shooting touch in conference play. Be nice to get her going again
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Items from the Northwestern loss to Iowa:

“Their zone definitely made it tough to get inside,” Scheid said. “And then sometimes we weren’t looking to (attack) and we weren’t being aggressive enough.”

Junior guard Lindsey Pulliam finished with 25 points, but the rest of the team shot 30 percent from the field. Talented shooters like sophomore guard Veronica Burton and Scheid struggled to get open against the Hawkeyes fast-moving 2-3 zone, and NU made just four of its 21 three-point shots.

As the offense stagnated, head coach Joe McKeown made an adjustment he hadn’t tried all season. In the middle of the third quarter, he played Pulliam at power forward in an attempt to get more perimeter shooters on the floor around her. Pulliam stayed at that position until late into the fourth quarter, but it didn’t have much of an effect on the offense.

“We were really struggling to score, so we tried to stretch them out with some shooters,” McKeown said. “We thought we could really spread the floor, get into the lane and really get out and run and maybe turn them over on the defensive end, which we didn’t do when we had to.”
 

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I kinda liked the side-by-side statistics, so I thought I’d do it again.

Here's the season-to-date statistics for selected primary players from Northwestern and Minnesota.

(The phrase “equivalent to” means the player has insufficient data to qualify for that spot on the NCAA rankings, but that would be their ranking if they had enough data. In other cases the NCAA stats page is broken, and mistakenly omits players who have a sufficient number of attempts, and that is noted when applicable.)

Points/Game
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) 19.5 - #24 in NCAA
Pitts 16.7 - #88 in NCAA
T. Bello 13.1 - somewhere slightly over #250 in NCAA
Hubbard 11.6
Abbie Wolf (NW) 11.21
Abi Scheid (NW) 10.64
Scalia 10.5
Powell 9.1
Veronica Burton (NW) 9.07
Brunson 8.4
Jordan Hamilton (NW) 5.22
Courtney Shaw (NW) 4.57
Byrdy Galenik (NW) 4.43

FG% (combined 2s and 3s - but typically no 3s in the case of posts)
Sconiers .667 (10-15) - equivalent to #6 in NCAA (but way too little data)
K. Bello .615 (8-13) - equivalent to #13 in NCAA (but way too little data)
Courtney Shaw (NW) .610 (25-41) - equivalent to #14 in NCAA
T. Bello .577 (71-123) - #29 in NCAA
Abbie Wolf (NW) .564 (66-117) - #35 in NCAA (mistakenly omitted from NCAA stats)
Byrdy Galenik (NW) .500 (24-48) - equivalent to #95 in NCAA
Abi Scheid (NW) .469 (53-113) - #146 in NCAA (mistakenly omitted from NCAA stats)
Scalia .462 (55-119) - #162 in NCAA (mistakenly omitted from NCAA stats)
Sydney Wood (NW) .436 - equivalent to #206 in NCAA
Adashchyk .433 (13-30) - equivalent to #209 in NCAA
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) .415 (102-246) #241 in NCAA
Pitts .392 (73-186)
Brunson .387 (48-124)
Hubbard .386 (54-140)
Powell .360 (41-114)
Veronica Burton (NW) .355 (38-107)
Jordan Hamilton (NW) .321 (18-56)

3P%
Byrdy Galenik (NW) .462 (6-13) - equivalent to #20 in NCAA (but way too little data)
Pitts .453 (43-95) - #24 in NCAA
Adashchyk .444 (4-9) - equivalent to #29 in NCAA
Abi Scheid (NW) .438 - #33 in NCAA
Scalia .436 (24-55) - equivalent to #36 in NCAA (not sure why she’s not listed)
Hubbard .390 (30-77) - #81 in NCAA
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) .345 (20-58) - equivalent to #145 in NCAA
Jordan Hamilton (NW) .316 (6-19) - equivalent to #175 in NCAA (but way too little data)
Brunson .313 (5-16) - equivalent to #180 in NCAA (but way too little data)
Veronica Burton (NW) .267 - equivalent to #195 in NCAA
Sydney Wood (NW) .250
Powell .190 (4-21)

2P%
Sconiers .667 (10-15) (but way too little data)
K. Bello .615 (8-13) (but way too little data)
T. Bello .577 (71-123)
Abbie Wolf (NW) .564 (66-117)
Scalia .484 (31-64)
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) .436
Adashchyk .429 (9-21)
Brunson .398 (43-108)
Powell .398 (37-93)
Hubbard .381 (24-63)
Pitts .330 (30-91)

FT%
Scalia .867 (13-15) - equivalent to #26 in NCAA
Pitts .849 (45-53) - #44 in NCAA
Brunson .810 (17-21) - equivalent to #86 in NCAA
Veronica Burton (NW) .766 - #172 in NCAA
Hubbard .758 (25-33) - equivalent to #193 in NCAA
T. Bello .732 (41-56)- #223 in NCAA
Lindsay Pulliam (NW) .721 - #243 in NCAA
Abbie Wolf (NW) .676
Courtney Shaw (NW) .378

Offensive Reb/Game
T. Bello 4.43 - #10 in NCAA
Abbie Wolf (NW) 3.00 - about #50 in NCAA (which only reports top 30)
Sydney Wood (NW) 1.64
Scalia 1.21
Courtney Shaw (NW) 1.14
Veronica Burton (NW) 1.00
Brunson 0.64
Pitts 0.57
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) 0.50
K. Bello 0.46
Hubbard 0.43
Powell 0.29
Abi Scheid (NW) 0.29

Defensive Reb/Game
T. Bello 5.57
Pitts 4.14
Veronica Burton (NW) 3.71
Abbie Wolf (NW) 3.71
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) 3.43
Scalia 3.21
Sydney Wood (NW) 3.21
Abi Scheid (NW) 3.21
Hubbard 2.71
Brunson 2.29
Powell 2.29
K. Bello 1.92
Courtney Shaw (NW) 1.86

Total Reb/Game
T. Bello 10.00 - #33 in NCAA
Abbie Wolf (NW) 6.71
Sydney Wood (NW) 4.9
Pitts 4.71
Veronica Burton (NW) 4.71
Scalia 4.43
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) 3.93
Abi Scheid (NW) 3.5
Courtney Shaw (NW) 3.29
Hubbard 3.14
Brunson 2.93
Powell 2.57
K. Bello 2.38

Assist to Turnover Ratio
Sydney Wood (NW) 2.61 - #16 in NCAA
Veronica Burton (NW) 2.57 - #19 in NCAA
Powell 2.14 - #49 in NCAA
Hubbard 2.00 - equivalent to #64 in NCAA
Abi Scheid (NW) 1.90 - equivalent to #83 in NCAA
Brunson 1.68 - #122 in NCAA
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) 1.56 - equivalent to #150 in NCAA
Scalia 1.35 - equivalent to #205 in NCAA
Jordan Hamilton (NW) 1.14
Pitts 1.09

Assists/Game
Veronica Burton (NW) 5.50 - #16 in NCAA
Pitts 3.57 - #195 in NCAA
Sydney Wood (NW) 3.37 - #245 in NCAA
Powell 3.21
Brunson 3.00
Abi Scheid (NW) 2.86
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) 2.00
Jordan Hamilton (NW) 1.78
Scalia 1.64
Hubbard 1.57
Abbie Wolf (NW) 1.14

Steals/Game
Veronica Burton (NW) 3.71 - #7 in NCAA
Hubbard 1.93 - #174 in NCAA
Scalia 1.64
Brunson 1.57
Sydney Wood (NW) 1.57
Jordan Hamilton (NW) 1.56
Powell 1.36
T. Bello 1.21
Abi Scheid (NW) 1.17
Pitts 1.07
Lindsey Pulliam (NW) 0.93

Blocks/Game
T. Bello 2.43 - #27 in NCAA
Abbie Wolf (NW) 1.00
Abi Scheid (NW) 0.79
K. Bello 0.31

Double-Doubles
T. Bello 7 - 18-way tie for #16 in NCAA

Notables:

Pretty much all stats for all Gopher players went down after the Nebraska game, except Taiye’s points per game, which went up slightly.

No Northwestern players are on the NCAA list of most double-doubles. Notable players sharing the 7 double-doubles spot with Taiye are Brittany Brewer of Marlene’s Texas Tech, and Oregon’s Ruthy Hebard.

The good news is, nobody from NW is in the top 250 in the NCAA in blocks/game. But together, Abbie Wolf and Abi Scheid average 1.79 blocks (compared to Taiye’s 2.43).

We have to worry about Veronica Burton since she averages 3.71 steals per game, which ranks #6 in the NCAA. Protect that ball! No sloppy or telegraphed passes!

Burton is also #16 in assists per game at 5.5 per game. That’s a couple more than Pitts, but not as much as the sum of Brunson and Powell (6.21). But NW has significant assists (8.94 of em) spread over 6 different players. That’s the way to play good basketball. But the Gophers average 14.2 assists per game, so if we can do that, we’re fine. Against Nebraska, we had only 9 assists.

NW’s Burton and Wood rank #19 and #16, respectively, in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.57 and 2.61. Powell (2.14) ranks #49.

NW’s Abbie Wolf does not quite make the top-250 NCAA list on rebounds per game with her 6.71 boards. Taiye averages 10.0 boards per game for 33rd place. Taiye is also #10 in offensive rebounds per game at 4.43. Abbie Wolf gets 3 offensive boards per game, but Wood, Shaw and Burton get a cumulative 1.78 more (which together, beats Taiye). But Scalia gets 1.21 - and overall, offensive rebounding pretty much is balanced between the two teams.

But NW does have significant height, so that we’ll definitely need to play double posts for up to about 20 minutes or so. If we do that, we have a good chance of actually winning the rebounding battle.

Note that NW’s Courtney Shaw is a horrible free-throw shooter. Everyone except Taiye (plus anyone in foul trouble) should feel free to block (even with foul) her at will on an attempted shot, especially if trying to catch up in the 4th quarter, or intentional fouling in the last minutes (but we need to keep Taiye on the floor, in case of overtime).

Note that Abbie Wolf shoots two-pointers slightly less efficiently than Taiye; and Lindsey Pulliam shoots two-pointers somewhere between Scalia and Adashchyk.

Pulliam is actually quite dangerous. She averages about 3 points-per-game more than Pitts, and ranks #24 in the NCAA in points per game. She shoots .436 field-goal percentage on twos, and .345 on threes. Lately she’s been going off for much higher scoring (just like Pitts is capable of), such as her 25 against Iowa. Her killer shot is the one-dribble-and-shoot from the top of the key. The announcers called that “her layup.” Need to defend her well. (Or, as Iowa demonstrated, let her go off for 25 but shut down the rest of the team.)

Abi Scheid is a true stretch-4, and is #33 in the country (.438) in three-point shooting percentage - right next to Sara Scalia. She will probably park on the three-point line more than she plays the low block, and is analogous to how Pitts plays the 4. But she’s got a lot of height over Pitts. Thus the need to, at least part of the time, play double posts, and assign a 6’2” defender to her that has a chance to block her, or at least discourage the shot, and rotate Pitts to defend their 3 instead. Just a thought: After Scheid takes a bench rest, when she rotates back in might be a good time to rotate-in our second post to cover her height; similarly, when Scheid rotates out might be a good time for us to rotate back to small ball.

Note that Byrdy Galenik shoots threes at a slightly better rate than Pitts. But she doesn’t get much playing time. When she does enter the game, pick her up at the three-point line.
 
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Ignatius L Hoops

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Gopher Sports Notes:

FACING NORTHWESTERN
• Minnesota and Northwestern will meet for the 74th time ever on Thursday. It's the fourth most-played series for Minnesota behind only Iowa (78), Wisconsin (77) and Ohio State (75).

• The Golden Gophers hold a slight 37-36 edge in the all-time series. Minnesota has won six of the last seven in the series, including each of the last four by an average score of 73.8-60.5. The four-game win streak is tied for the fifth longest active win streak for the Gophers against a DI team.

• In Minneapolis, the Gophers hold a 20-12 series lead. Minnesota has won four straight (by an average score of 83.3-69) and 13 of the past 14 against the Wildcats at The Barn. Like the overall win streak, the home streak versus Northwestern is also tied for fifth longest.

• In her career, Gophers head coach Lindsay Whalen has never lost to Northwestern, going 5-0 as a player and 2-0 as a coach.
 

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Ugly 1st half, way too many turnovers but they started figuring out this NW zone late in the half. I dont usually criticize refs but Taiyes 3rd foul was a brutal call. Stay out of foul trouble cut down on the to's and this game is ours to take.
 

Katogopher

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I’m watching a team that has lost its swagger and confidence. Bello twins cannot stay on the floor making Gophers easier to defend
 

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dang thats a tough one. was nice to see some fight to get back in the game at least.
 

Katogopher

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Unless there is an injury it appears Pitts is in the dog house, another long big ten season. Right now this team appears disjointed, don’t know what the answer is. Very disappointing.
 

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It stinks knowing that the Gophers were a lot more competitive in the Big Ten with Stollings than they have been with Whalen so far.
 

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It stinks knowing that the Gophers were a lot more competitive in the Big Ten with Stollings than they have been with Whalen so far.
I still think this team can be solid but they gotta get connected. Everything seems off right now. Theres talent it just needs to play together.
 

blkroll

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Unless there is an injury it appears Pitts is in the dog house, another long big ten season. Right now this team appears disjointed, don’t know what the answer is. Very disappointing.
Whalen confirmed on the post game interview that it wasn’t illness or injury that landed Pitts on the bench.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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For the first time this season (I think) let me say, "I miss Marlene's dozens and dozens of inbound plays". Like McKeown's, the plays could be run for scores. Two on one down the paint as time expires...Sheesh!

Yes, Whalen and Pitts were not on the same page when it came to guarding Scheid. Whalen called a time out in the third quarter to sub Adashchyck for Pitts. Pitts and Whalen had an extended discussion before the time out huddle and then another extended discussion on the bench after the time out. I think Destiny returned once before more before being pulled and joining Powell in the dog house. This is not a good sign-especially when you coach talks about players who played hard being on the court.
 

GringaGopher

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Really ugly game to watch with mindless turnovers, poor shooting and lack of offensive flow. Whalen was definitely sending a message to Pitts n Powell and I agree with her. Scheid had half of NW's points going into the 3rd. Most of her shots were uncontested. Team needs to regroup and I would never prefer a Stollings coached team.
 

gopherdudepart2

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For the first time this season (I think) let me say, "I miss Marlene's dozens and dozens of inbound plays". Like McKeown's, the plays could be run for scores. Two on one down the paint as time expires...Sheesh!

Yes, Whalen and Pitts were not on the same page when it came to guarding Scheid. Whalen called a time out in the third quarter to sub Adashchyck for Pitts. Pitts and Whalen had an extended discussion before the time out huddle and then another extended discussion on the bench after the time out. I think Destiny returned once before more before being pulled and joining Powell in the dog house. This is not a good sign-especially when you coach talks about players who played hard being on the court.
Pitts and Powell played hard just some unusual turnovers. I don't get the Pitts benching, Scheid a tough match up for Pitts at that size advantage. This coach rides the crap out of her best player, then benches her in a game they could have won with her on the floor. Stupid to bench your best player even if your disagreeing and upset for just about all 4th quarter.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Whalen confirmed on the post game interview that it wasn’t illness or injury that landed Pitts on the bench.
Not sure I agree with that degree of punishment. If one were to bench every player who made a really silly (and unprovoked) turnover in this game, then we probably don’t have five healthy/eligible/un-benched players left to finish out the game.
 

EaganGopher22

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This was tough. Had we simply taken care of the ball in the first half, we probably would have been up by 10 or more. The bright spot was Hubbard, she seems to be getting her confidence back and she did a very good job on Pulliam. Pitts just couldn't get open or decent shots for much of the game and maybe it showed in her attitude or her defensive letdown? Hard to know what was happening there.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Minutes played and turnovers (Minnesota had 21 turnovers many of them just hopeful throws into space):

35 Brunson 4
35 Hubbard 1
29 T Bello 0
29 Scalia 1
26 Pitts 2
21 Adashchyk 5
14 K Bello 2
11 Powell 6

We just do not know how to attack a zone.
 

Gophers112233

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We relay on the 3 way to much.. it's crazy honestly.. we had a fast break and I forget who it was but pulled up and let the defense get set..

we aren't creating anything really defensively anymore.. not many deflections or hands in the passing lanes..

offensively we just stand around.. nobody will ATTACK the basket.. just go drive and kick out or drop off pass or something.. our offense is really making it easy for defenses to defend us right now.
 

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Pitts and Powell played hard just some unusual turnovers. I don't get the Pitts benching, Scheid a tough match up for Pitts at that size advantage. This coach rides the crap out of her best player, then benches her in a game they could have won with her on the floor. Stupid to bench your best player even if your disagreeing and upset for just about all 4th quarter.
I was really surprised she benched her that long but lets not forget they were down 10 when she got benched for good and they did come back and tie the game. That group brought some energy.
 

Gophers112233

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I was really surprised she benched her that long but lets not forget they were down 10 when she got benched for good and they did come back and tie the game. That group brought some energy.

not enough offense though.. you have your best player on the bench.. that is just an interesting time to bench Pitts..
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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I'm waiting for the post-game quotes. In the meantime here's one from Kurt Youngblood's STrib gamer:

“I don’t really know,’’ Bello said when asked what it will take to get the offense going. “I don’t really know how to answer that. I feel like we’ve been back to the drawing board a couple times.”
 
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