MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Make it five straight Big Ten wins for the Minnesota women’s basketball team.
The Gophers got revenge on an early-season loss to Purdue Thursday night, dominating the fourth quarter in a 65-45 win over the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena. The Gophers had a 27-24 lead at the half after a slow offensive start for both teams.
When the two teams met Jan. 24 at Williams Arena, Purdue got 17 points from Karissa McLaughlin in a 64-53 win for the Boilermakers. Minnesota limited McLaughlin Thursday to 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
Minnesota’s second half defense was the story Thursday night. Purdue shot 0-of-11 from the field in the fourth quarter, including 0-4 from three-point range. The Gophers out-scored Purdue 22-2 over the final 10 minutes, with the Boilermakers’ only points coming from the free-throw line.
Destiny Pitts led the Gophers with 27 points, 23 of which came in the second half. She finished 10-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point range.
“The reason we’re winning is we’re playing harder than the other teams. We keep that going, and good things happen for us,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said earlier this week on the Gophers Coaches Show.
The Gophers used an 11-2 run late in the first half to grab the lead at the break. They shot 50 percent from the field in the win, and limited Purdue to 37 percent, including 3-of-10 from the perimeter.
Pitts hit a runner in the fourth quarter for a 52-44 lead as the Gophers started to pull away. Irene Garrido Perez hit a three-pointer from the corner to give Minnesota a 58-45 lead. Pitts added consecutive buckets, off a turnover and a blocked shot, to give the Gophers a 62-45 lead.
The 27 points is a season-high for Pitts. She’s scored in double figures in eight straight games.
“The confidence comes from repetition. Just going out and shooting with my teammates all the time, especially outside of practice,” Pitts said on the Gophers Coaches Show earlier this week.
Kenisha Bell added 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Gophers out-rebounded Purdue 36-24 and held a 16-3 advantage in fast break points.
With the win, Minnesota (18-7) moved into a tie for seventh in the Big Ten at 7-7. Purdue had been 12-2 at home this season before Thursday’s loss.
The Gophers return home to face Penn State on Sunday. The Nittany Lions are 3-9 in the Big Ten and have lost four straight. The Gophers will be sporting pink uniforms and raising money for the Kay Yow Fund for cancer research.
Whalen will be wearing “Play4Kay” sneakers during Sunday’s game, and they’ll be auctioned off after on the Gopher sports web site. Proceeds will go to the Kay Yow Fund. Kay Yow was the women’s basketball coach at N.C. State until 2009, when she died after a long battle with breast cancer.