Gophers fall to Purdue at home

Defense was the difference that pushed Purdue to a win in a low-scoring game at Williams Arena.

Sophomore Destiny Pitts runs through defenders toward the hoop during the game against Purdue on Thursday, Jan. 24.

Tony Saunders

Sophomore Destiny Pitts runs through defenders toward the hoop during the game against Purdue on Thursday, Jan. 24.

Babatunde Jinadu

The Purdue Boilermakers came to Williams Arena on Thursday night to take on the Minnesota women’s basketball team, bringing with them a 5-2 Big Ten record.

Although two players put up double-digit scoring totals, Minnesota didn’t take advantage of home court as the game resulted in a 64-53 loss. Sophomore Destiny Pitts finished with 19 points, senior Kenisha Bell added another 17 points and Taiye Bello came down with 18 rebounds. However, the three standout performances were not enough to earn the Gophers a victory.

Despite losing five of their last six games, the Gophers did not seem fazed as they jumped out to a 12-4 lead seven minutes into the contest. 

“I was sticking with my shot and being really confident. Coach [Lindsay] Whalen just told me to keep shooting it throughout all the games, so I think I went into this game feeling really confident,” Pitts said.

Although Purdue fought back with an 8-3 run over the next three minutes, Minnesota would hold a 15-12 lead after the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, the Boilermakers continued their momentum and eventually took a 26-19 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Still, Minnesota didn’t give up and made an 8-0 run in five minutes to regain a one-point lead going into halftime.

“It’s always a battle to come up here in the Barn. … I thought our first half obviously was a battle back and forth, but I thought the second half we played really solid,” said Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp after the game.

After the half, Purdue took back command of the game and soon was ahead with a score of 41-34. The Gophers, sparked by Bell, momentarily found new life and cut the lead to as low as three points with under two minutes left in the quarter.

Unfortunately for head coach Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota struggled to get closer than that, and were outplayed in the last 10 minutes of action. By the end of the game Purdue had made 46 percent of their field goal attempts compared to Minnesota’s 31 percent. 

“There was a couple of points in the fourth [quarter] where it was a four-point game, so we’re in the game,” Whalen said. “Like I told the team, we’ve got to keep working. They’re in there every day shooting before and after practice, so it’s not for lack of effort, and we know that eventually the shots are going to fall.”

Unlike most teams, Purdue was able to keep up with Minnesota’s rebounding. Coming into the game Minnesota had a +8.8 average rebounding margin on the season, but in Thursday’s matchup the teams were even with 39 rebounds apiece.

Next, the Gophers will wait four days before playing Ohio State at home on Monday.