With Big Ten season around the corner, Gophers sit third in standings

Minnesota’s 8-3 record has them in good shape heading into conference play.

With the women’s basketball Big Ten season ready to start right after Christmas, teams around the conference are doing some last-minute fine-tuning in hopes of getting out of the gate fast.

With one game remaining in nonconference play, the Gophers are hanging in with the top teams in the conference so far. Minnesota (8-3 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) is ranked third in the standings behind first-place Michigan State and conference-favorite Ohio State.

The Gophers have shown an ability to put up points, as seven different players have reached double figures this season, and they continue to be led by junior guard Emily Fox, who averages 17.3 points per game.

Minnesota is 2-3 in its last five games after starting the season 6-0. The Gophers have lost just one game at home this season, dropping their most recent game to Utah, 54-66.

“We lost to a very good basketball team,” coach Pam Borton said after the game. “I thought this was the best team we’ve played yet this season.”

Chasing the top

It looks like the rest of the conference will have to chase Ohio State and Michigan State, as both teams have jumped out to a great start to the season.

Michigan State sits atop the standings with a 7-2 record; it has held that record with the help of some great defense. The Spartans have been able to hold their opponents under 60 points in five of their wins, which has helped out a lot, especially with an offense that hasn’t been extremely efficient.

“It’s a team that’s still in the works,” coach Suzy Merchant said in a press conference. “We’ve had a lot of inconsistency, but this team is finding a way to win, and they’re starting to find a personality.”

In the hunt with a 6-2 record, Ohio State is playing like the heavy favorite to win the conference. The Buckeyes have allowed just 430 points over eight games, and have been held to under 60 points just twice this season.

Ohio State has benefitted from its combination of senior leadership in guard Marscilla Packer’s 15 points per game, mixed in with a freshman sensation in center Jantel Lavender.

Lavender is averaging a double-double, with 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. The guard-post combination has been a big part to Ohio State’s nonconference success, as the Buckeyes have three games remaining before the Big Ten season begins.

Weekly honors

Sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan of Michigan State was named the Big Ten Player of the Week, coming off of a big game against Indiana State.

DeHaan scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on the night, and nearly completed a triple-double with eight blocks.

The 6-foot-9-inch center also collected a career-high five assists to help her team to an 83-58 victory. The award is DeHaan’s second of the season. She is averaging 17.8 points per game so far this season.