Gophers in an offensive slump as Big Ten season starts to wind down

Junior guard Emily Fox has had a tough stretch shooting the ball.

The Minnesota women’s basketball team has been one of the top offensive teams in the Big Ten this season.

But it didn’t look that way at all last weekend as the Gophers struggled to score points at Purdue and Ohio State, leading to a pair of losses.

Senior forward Leslie Knight continued to be a consistent threat, but junior guard Emily Fox went into a two-game scoring drought, averaging just four points per game to leave Minnesota with only one offensive threat.

“We have a little regrouping to do,” associate head coach Barb Smith said. “But Leslie has put the team on her back and has been our most consistent player.”

First-place tie

Purdue and Iowa put together successful weekends with two-game sweeps, and took advantage of Illinois knocking off Big Ten leader Ohio State to climb into a three-way tie for the conference lead.

Iowa is currently riding a six-game winning streak and is turning some heads after suffering through last season with a 6-10 record. And it was something coach Lisa Bluder said couldn’t be done without her team’s senior core.

“Senior leadership can be a benefit if you have the right seniors,” she said. “If they’re willing to hold people accountable, they can really help a team, and I think our five seniors have done that.”

Purdue’s success has been less of a surprise, but the Boilermakers will need to play well to stay in the top spot, as they host Ohio State on Thursday.

The Buckeyes, the preseason favorite to win the conference, have many offensive weapons in freshman center Jantel Lavender and guards Marscilla Packer and Ashlee Trebilcock, but struggled against Minnesota and Illinois on the road, showing a weakness.

And as Purdue is not known for being a road-friendly place to play, it could be Ohio State moving down in the standings by the end of the week.

Strong efforts

Wisconsin senior guard Jolene Anderson has led the Big Ten in scoring all season, averaging more than 20 points per game for the 10th-place Badgers.

Last week was no exception, as Anderson averaged 26.5 points and 10 rebounds more than two games to become this week’s Big Ten Player of the Week.

The award is the fourth of Anderson’s career, but despite her scoring efforts, Wisconsin was still only able to pick up one win in two games.