Kenisha Bell’s 24 points guides Minnesota to victory over Wisconsin

The Gophers are 10-0 against the Badgers in their last 10 matchups.

<p>Gophers women's basketball player Kenisha Bell loses control of the ball during the game against Wisconsin on Thursday, Jan. 18 at Williams Arena. </p>

Ellen Schmidt

Gophers women's basketball player Kenisha Bell loses control of the ball during the game against Wisconsin on Thursday, Jan. 18 at Williams Arena. 

Jack White

The Gophers came into the game against the Badgers with nine consecutive wins in the matchup.

With help from their redshirt junior guard, Minnesota made it 10 straight rivalry wins with ease.

Kenisha Bell scored 24 points, a team high, as the Gophers (15-5, 4-3 Big Ten) blew out Wisconsin (7-13, 0-7 Big Ten) 90-65 at Williams Arena on Thursday. 

Bell also went 10-10 at the free throw line. She accounted for all of Minnesota’s scoring 8-3 run in the second quarter. Last game, she scored three points on 1-8 shooting.

“I bounced back pretty good,” Bell said. “I think when I started drawing fouls and stuff, I thought I was more confident in what I was doing.”

Though Bell scored more points than any Minnesota player, one of the team’s keys to beating the Badgers was a balanced attack. The Gophers had five players score in double-digits. Guards Destiny Pitts and Carlie Wagner tied for second on the team in scoring with 15 each.

Guard Gadiva Hubbard forced Wisconsin’s eighth turnover of the game when she stole and the ball and ran out in transition. She drew a foul, as she made the shot, to go to the line and convert the And-1. Hubbard finished with 10 points and the Badgers finished with 14 turnovers.

Minnesota pulled away early when the team went on a 9-0 run in the first quarter. The second quarter did not get much better for the Badgers. The Gophers pulled away even more to take a 56-33 lead into the locker room at halftime. The halftime point total was the most the team has scored in a Big Ten game so far.

“I was really pleased with our offensive explosion in the first half,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. “Pleased with the team and how they handled the [scouting report] for this game and how they executed.”

The Gophers made easy work of Wisconsin for a reason. The Badgers came into the game on a seven-game losing streak. Wisconsin showed signs of life in the Minnesota game when it went on an 8-0 run in the third quarter, to come within 25. Later, the team had a 8-0 run in the fourth, but the game was already out of reach.

Minnesota also dominated Wisconsin on the boards. The Gophers had 56 rebounds to the Badgers’ 41. Forward Taiye Bello was the team’s leading rebounder with 13, a career high. She had 13 points as well for her second double-double of the season.

“I just wanted to make sure that I come in and make sure that I’m efficient with the shots I take,” Bello said. “Make sure that I play defense and rebound.”

Pitts was close behind in rebounding with 11 rebounds. She also tallied 15 points, which gave her a team-high fifth double-double of the season.

In its last game, Minnesota lost 80-70 to then-No. 21 Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights forced the Gophers to commit 24 turnovers. In the game versus Wisconsin, the team had just 13. 

“We took some things away from the Rutgers game, it stung a little bit,” Stollings said. “You have it right in your hand, you want to go finish it off … then we quickly turned to focus on this.”

Minnesota looks to make it two victories in a row against Iowa on Sunday at Williams Arena.