Off to Bloomington with a chance at three straight

The Gophers already did something last weekend they hadn’t in over a year: won back-to-back Big Ten conference games.

Jesse Mandell-McClinton

For the Gophers womenâÄôs basketball team, thereâÄôs nothing like a successful week at The Barn to turn around a tumultuous season.

After the GophersâÄô (10-12 overall, 2-7 Big Ten) seventh consecutive loss against Michigan State on Jan. 23, Minnesota was nearing historic levels of ineptitude. The coach was asking senior players for leadership, and the players had found just about every way to lose a game.

It seems all it really took to fix MinnesotaâÄôs problems was a trip back home, where the Gophers took care of Northwestern and Michigan for their first back-to-back conference wins in more than a year. Now the team is moving with a little confidence as they head to Bloomington to face an Indiana team that, at 2-7, is tied with Minnesota and Illinois for last place in the Big Ten.

Indiana (8-13, 2-7) is in a slump much like the one the Gophers just got out of âÄî losers of their last seven. The HoosiersâÄô last victory came at Williams Arena, an 80-79 overtime win that left a bad taste in head coach Pam BortonâÄôs mouth.

âÄúWe owe them one,âÄù Borton said Sunday about their matchup with the Hoosiers.

Two of the last five games between the teams have been settled in overtime, with the Gophers ending up on the short end both times.

The Jan. 2 game against Indiana may have been the toughest loss of the year for Minnesota. The Gophers blew a double-digit second half lead, the first of four times they would do so in the ensuing month. MinnesotaâÄôs field goal percentage in the second half and overtime was less than 30 percent, and they were outrebounded 46-42 by the team with the second worse rebounding margin in the conference.

After that game, Indiana head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said that her team was not the tallest or fastest, but they could outwork their opponents for wins.

Minnesota has proven recently, however, that its work ethic on the floor isnâÄôt lacking; it has totaled 37 offensive rebounds in its last two games, including 12 from the Big TenâÄôs latest Freshman of the Week Kionna Kellogg.

While the Gophers are heading on the road, where they havenâÄôt won a game since Nov. 27, they face a Hoosiers team thatâÄôs lost four of its last five at Assembly Hall. A win in Bloomington would be a good energy boost for the next few days, as the Gophers donâÄôt play again until they head south to face No. 22 Iowa next Thursday.

Minnesota needs to continue its solid rebounding and take care of the ball to come out of Indiana on top. A win would pull them out of the Big Ten cellar for the first time this year. The game starts at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on KBEM (88.5 FM).