B1G Game 5: Gophers Visit Illinois (1-12-20)

Ignatius L Hoops

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Déjà vu All Over Again
(Except for Last Night’s Loss to the ‘Cats Which was a Conflagration of a Different Color)

Illinois (0-4) awaits the Gophers (1-3) in Champaign shouldering decisive losses in their first four Big Ten Conference games. Most notable was the Hawkeyes dropping a school record 108 points in defeating the Illini 108-72. Iowa was 13-26 from three and shot 65% from the field. It wasn’t even Illinois’ worst conference defeat this season; Indiana ripped them 83-42 in Bloomington. The Illini’s woeful Big Ten effort thus far:

B1G Losses: Northwestern 50-77, @ Iowa 72-108, @ Indiana 42-83 and Rutgers 51-75

During the two previous seasons, including B1G tournaments games, Nancy Fahey’s Illini were 2-17 and 0-17. That’s a grand total of two wins and thirty-eight conference losses in two plus seasons. One of the two wins was versus Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the other was one of the most embarrassing losses in Gopher history

When the Illini traveled to Williams Arena last season they were on a 19 game B1G losing streak and well on their way to a well-earned season ending RPI of 217. Meanwhile, Minnesota had opened the B1G season crunching the Badgers before losing in Ann Arbor. Minnesota was 12th ranked and looking to get back on track. Everything was good at the start with the Gophers cruising to a 46-29 lead at the 7:01 mark of the 3rd quarter. Then the Illini mounted a stunning comeback taking a 61-60 lead on an Alex Wittinger layup with 2:22 remaining. Kenisha Bell quickly responded with a jumper. But Brandi Beasley put the Illini back in the lead. Then Annalese Lamke missed two free throws and it was left for Arieal Scott to deliver the coup de gras.


It was the ninth Illini three pointer of the game. And sealed a loss that played a large role in keeping Minnesota out of the NCAA tournament.

Illinois was 9-17 from three while Minnesota was 4-16. In the game, Minnesota was led by Lamke with 18 points and 8 rebounds in 33 minutes. Brunson had 17 point and Bell 14. Taiye Bello, in 36 minutes, pulled down 11 rebounds to go with 4 points. Destiny Pitts was 1-10 from three and finished with 7 points and 4 rebounds in 40 minutes. For the Illini the leading scorer was Brandi Beasley with 19 followed by Wittinger with 11 points and 8 rebounds in 28 minutes. Courtney Joens chipped in 10 points; but it was Arieal Scott who annoyingly went 3-4 from behind the arc in 12 minutes of terror.

On the positive side for the Gophers this Sunday: Arial Scott is out for the season and Alex Wittinger graduated.

What Whalen said post game last season:

On if the 2‐3 zone from Illinois gave them problems:
“Yeah, I still felt like we got fairly decent looks but the problem is they were able to set up a 2‐3. If you’re giving up 45 (points) they were able to set up the zone and they went 1‐2‐2. Give them credit for the adjustment. Man‐to‐man they were having a hard time with us and then there was a combination of them scoring and then sitting in the zone and making us shoot from the outside, coming out really aggressive when we did get it inside as far not trying to let AL (Annalese Lamke) and Taiye (Bello) get clean looks at the basket. But when you’re taking it out every time then they can set up a 2‐3, then you have to work for it and unfortunately we weren’t able to get that done
The second half collapse versus Illinois got me thinking about Big Ten games in which Minnesota gave up second half leads or significant scoring runs during the Whalen Era. (Actually, I started wondering about it after the Penn State game). Here they are in order-it’s not exactly scientific and some of them, of course, ended up being nervous wins:



Last Season:

Iowa: a 63-81 loss.
Minnesota led by 8 at the half 40-32. Iowa rallied in the third quarter outscoring the Gophers 24-9. Adding insult to injury, the Hawkeyes finished off their victory winning the fourth quarter 25-14.

At Nebraska: a 63-57 loss. With 4:00 minutes remaining and Minnesota leading 57-51, the Huskers raced to the finish with a 12-0 game winning run.

Ohio State: a 55-65 loss. A 45-43 Minnesota lead was erased by a Buckeye 16-0 run sweeping OSU to a 59-45 lead and ultimately a Buckeye victory.

At Indiana: a 65-61 Gopher win. Minnesota led 61-49 at 4:15 in the fourth. A 10-0 Hoosier run closed the gap to 61-59 at :29. The Hoosier bucket was a layup off a steal by Keyanna Warthen who was fouled by Brunson. Although Warthen missed the free throw, Indiana rebounded the miss allowing Jaelyenn Penn a chance to shoot a three for the lead-she missed. Bell and Pitts went 4-6 from the line the rest of the way and Minnesota held on.

Northwestern: a 73-64 Gopher win. Oh yes, that’s the score after overtime. The regulation finish was more exciting. At 5:10 in the fourth quarter Minnesota led 54-49. A 9-0 Wildcat run made it 58-54. Pitts and Bell both scored to tie it up with :08 seconds remaining. Then with :04 seconds on the clock, Abi Scheid missed two free throws sending us to overtime.

Intermission for an exception! At Purdue: a 65-45 Gopher win. With the score tied at 40 with 3:09 left in the third quarter, Minnesota’s 25-5 run left the embarrassed Boilers gasping.

At Maryland: a 69-71 Gopher loss: We all remember how this one canceled a six game Gopher winning streak. With 5:06 remaining in the third quarter Minnesota led 54-38. Then a slow-motion train wreck turned into a runaway Maryland locomotive. Slowly losing steam, Minnesota maintained a 59-48 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. The Terps kept chugging along cutting the lead to 5 a couple of times. But a Kenisha Bell layup gave the Gophers a 69-62 lead with 1:58 remaining. That was the Gopher’s last gasp. Still, Maryland did not score until Kaila Charles connected on a layup with :50 seconds remaining. Charles’ bucket started a 9-0 game winning Terp run bookended by a Kaila Charles buzzer beating layup. Arrrgh!

At Rutgers: a 54-60 loss: This was pretty straight forward. At 6:43 of the third a Pitt’s three pointer gave Minnesota a 37-28 lead. A Rutger’s 8-0 run got the Scarlet Knights back in the game and the fourth quarter was just a trudge to a Rutger’s victory.

This Season (a quick once over):

At Penn State: a 81-74 Gopher win
: Somehow a 54-21 halftime lead turned into a, “What’s going on?”, second half.

Ohio State: a 63-66 Gopher loss: A fourth quarter Pitts three pointer gave the Gophers a 63-59 lead at 2:55. A 7-0 Buckeye run gave Ohio State the victory.

I don’t really have conclusion other than to borrow from P J Fleck; If last season was year 0, please don't let it carry over to season 2. For now, I just hope we don’t have another Illinois game added to this list. Coming off last night’s last second layup loss to Northwestern, a loss to a terrible Illini club is an embarrassment we don’t need.

Probable Starters (B1G Stats):

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
6’2”FSrAli Andrews21.57.33.0
5’10”GRSrPetra Holesinska26.210.82.5
6’2”FFrKennedi Myles29.58.06.0
5’6”GSrBrandi Beasley26.16.31.3
5’9”GSoJ-Naya Ephraim19,03.53.0


Bench (B1G Stats):

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’10”GFrJada Peeples22.55.81.3
5’10”GSrCourtney Joens12.84.00.9
6’3”FSoMackenzie Blazek21.35.57.0
5’11”GFrJeanae Terry15.43.51.8
5’9”GRSrCierra Rice10.20.80.3
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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It's Illini for Life Day when Minnesota takes on Illinois. They are giving away onesies. The Gophers are looking for Life. The Illini can keep the onesies.

Some Game Notes:

  • Freshman Kennedi Myles ranks second in the Big Ten and fourth among Division I freshmen in rebounding (9.3 rpg), while also sitting sixth with 2.2 steals per game.
    [*]Redshirt junior Petra Holešínská ranks 12th in the conference with 14.3 points per game and leads the Big Ten with a .467 three-point shooting percentage. She ranks seventh in Illinois history with 132 career three-pointers made, while senior Ali Andrews sits in eighth with 131 career treys.
    [*]Holešínská also ranks second in the B1G with a .820 free-throw percentage.
    [*]Senior Brandi Beasley is fourth in Illinois history with 407 career assists.
 

bbwannabe

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Since we are Looking for Life for the Gophers, the woowoo in me wants all of us to send lots of positive energy to those fighting Gophers! Go Gophers!
 

Waffle

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what about Pitts? Is she out?
I have no clue. I didn't watch last game but some people said Pitts was jarring with Whalen so was just asking a follow up question to the statement because I can't wait til tip-off. ;)
 

adamj95

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I wonder what happened. This is not a good look.
 

baller4life

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Got an explanation for Pitts... apparently. What about Bello twins? Doesn't add up.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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I should've said Pitts was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team" according to Corbu. You're right, he did not give an explanation for the Bellos. I'M Assuming, they support Pitts.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Well, I guess we’ll see which of the bench players are ready to contribute. And rely on Scalia and Diva for threes.

Re the latter ...

The game notes for this Illinois game point out that in Big-Ten play (only) Sara Scalia leads the B1G with a .500 three-point shooting percentage. And Pitts is not far behind at .478. Both have bumped their three-pointer percentage a bit versus the non-conf season.

In particular, Scalia’s .500 B1G average tied the #1 .500 seasonal NCAA average. In the latter, Holesinska (Illinois) comes in at #9 and Pitts at #11, with Scalia at #29. Again there is a mistake on the NCAA site, as Scalia is left off that page in spite of having taken 60 shots - more than enough to qualify.

In other words, Scalia is now shooting threes at a rate as good as the best in the NCAA, and Pitts is only a tiny bit behind her.
 

Waffle

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Announcers make it sound like Bello's haven't been practicing either.
 

GringaGopher

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Hope the remaining Gophers rise to the challenge. It’s difficult because I don’t think we will ever hear the full story behind this recent drama.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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I'm thinking we fleshed out the drama part pretty well post-Northwestern game. Where the drama will be Thursday night is another matter.
 

baller4life

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I'm thinking we fleshed out the drama part pretty well post-Northwestern game. Where the drama will be Thursday night is another matter.
Trust me, if you think this board fleshed out the post-NW game drama... you have nothing close to the full story.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Is it fair to say today is a must win?
I think it’s fair to say that there’s a high probability that this game is a donation to the Illini charity fund.

14 points in the paint for Illinois in the first quarter.
 

Goldy Gopher

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I haven't seen a lot of women's games all year but the demeanor of Pitts and interaction of Pitts with Whalen in that Nebraska game didn't look positive at all. Pitts is a good player but if she isn't all in to Whalen's program she should look elsewhere. I think Whalen made the right move. She has to set the expectations for her program and what kind of behavior is going to be tolerated.
 

jham13

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Two bad teams playing against each other - really bad teams!
 

Katogopher

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If they could hit their free throws and Hubbard can get hot, they would have a chance. Don’t like the demeanor of the team tho, seems flat but it’s been that way for awhile
 

blkroll

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Trust me, if you think this board fleshed out the post-NW game drama... you have nothing close to the full story.
So it seems like you have much more information on all of this but aren’t really willing to share. Why fan the flames?
 
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