One of the finest track and field athletes in Purdue’s history is coming to Minnesota on Friday — to play hoops.
Corissa Yasen, a nine-time All-American in the high jump and heptathlon, is the owner of 10 Big Ten titles and won the NCAA heptathlon championship last spring.
In this, her final year of athletic eligibility and first of college basketball, Yasen is averaging 11 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Purdue was predicted to finish eighth in the Big Ten in the preseason coaches’ poll, but currently stands in fourth with an overall record of 10-8, 6-3 in the conference. Along with Illinois (7-2), the Boilermakers are one of the Big Ten’s surprise teams.
In a short time, Yasen has stepped up as the Boilermakers’ best defender, leading the team in steals and blocks. Her rebounding average is just shy of the lead, as well.
As if that weren’t enough to handle, the Gophers will also have to contain the Big Ten’s leading scorer, center Jannon Roland, who is good for 18.5 points per game. And guard Stephanie White has averaged 18.7 points in her last 11 games.
The Gophers, desperate for a win, may have unfortunately caught Purdue at the worst possible time. The Boilermakers are coming off a tough 51-50 loss to in-state rival Indiana. The Hoosiers’ Dani Thrush snapped Purdue’s 18-game winning streak against Indiana on a layup with 5.4 seconds remaining in the game.
That loss came two days after a 73-63 win over Ohio State, the Gophers’ Sunday opponent. The Buckeyes whipped Minnesota by 23 points in their first meeting two weeks ago.
Ohio State has lost six of its last seven games (the sole win coming against Minnesota), and is still looking for its first Big Ten road win of the season. The Buckeyes are in 10th place with a 10-9 record overall, 2-7 conference record.
Gophers center Angie Iverson got into early foul trouble at Ohio State on Jan. 17 and played perhaps her worst game of the season, picking up only eight points and five rebounds. That’s well below her current 16-point, 11-rebound average.
Mindy Hansen and Sarah Klun paced the Gophers with 18 and 12 points, respectively. But Ohio State forward Larecha Jones posted a career-high 25 points, and guard Marcie Alberts had 12 points, all of which came from behind the 3-point line.
With only seven games remaining on the regular season schedule, Minnesota is in danger of posting its second consecutive winless season in the Big Ten. The Gophers have gone 31-82 in the conference under coach Linda Hill-MacDonald, including the current 31-game losing streak.
Prior to the Gophers 0-16 performance last season, only one team had gone through the conference schedule without a win. Michigan went 0-18 in 1993-94.
ù Minnesota played before its biggest crowd of the season on Sunday, as 7,250 Badger fans poured into the Wisconsin Field House.
The attendance was huge, considering the game was played on the same day as the Packers’ first Super Bowl appearance in nearly 30 years.
But Wisconsin is averaging more than 8,700 fans per game, good for third in the nation.
ù Against Wisconsin, for the first time all season, everybody on the Gophers’ bench played.
ù On the heels of her sub-par five-rebound game on Sunday, Iverson relinquished the Big Ten rebounding lead to Michigan’s Pollyanna Johns. The Michigan center is ahead by .3 rebounds, 11.25 to 11.22.