Bello shines, Gophers pull away from Milwaukee

The senior forward finished with an impressive stat-line in the 77-61 win

Brendan O'Brien

Led by senior forward Tayie Bello, the Minnesota Gophers were able to overcome their two-point deficit at halftime and pulled away in the third quarter to beat the Milwaukee Panthers 77-61.

The Gophers again struggled offensively at the beginning of the game, shooting only about 26 percent from the field and scoring 11 points in the first quarter. In the first half, redshirt junior guard Gadiva Hubbard missed all five of her three-point attempts and junior forward Destiny Pitts did not attempt a shot.

Despite the slow start in the first half, the Gophers were aggressive at the beginning of the second half. Minnesota opened up the third quarter with Hubbard connecting from three. The Gophers went on a 13-0 run in the first four minutes of the quarter to take a 44-33 lead, forcing Milwaukee to call a timeout. Milwaukee was able to put together a small comeback, but the Gophers had answers and were able to hold off the Panthers throughout the rest of the game.

Minnesota again had a balanced offensive attack with five players finishing with double digits in points. Bello put on a show throughout the game, finishing with a game-high 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. Freshman guard Jasmine Powell came off the bench and added 16 points and four assists. 

The Gophers’ defense played a large role in the win, holding the Panthers to 12 points in the third quarter. Minnesota also capitalized off of Milwaukee’s 33 turnovers, scoring 35 of their 77 points off of turnovers. 

Playing better in the second half has been a trend for the Gophers early in the season. Currently, the Gophers have scored 131 points in the second half compared to 105 in the first half.

Even though Milwaukee was not has high-profile of a team last year, finishing with a 15-15 record last season, Minnesota head coach Lindsay Whalen knew her team would have to play well against the Panthers. 

“They’re a tough team,” Whalen said Wednesday before practice. “They’re physical. They got some kids who really are physical, they are a physical team. They played really well in Purdue the other night. They got a freshman coming off the bench who’s really tough [and] a couple of Minnesota kids, so we know they are going to bring their fans. We need to come ready, there’s no question.” 

The Thursday matinee game was the third of six consecutive non-conference home games for the Gophers. Minnesota is now 2-1 on the season with a 3:00 p.m. game Sunday against Arizona State.