It's only been three games for Minnesota, but the team has already added another blowout victory to its resume.
The Gophers beat VCU 108-63 Thursday to move to 3-0 on the season. Kenisha Bell led the team with 20 points and 10 assists, her second double-double in a row.
But Bell wasn’t the only one who got into the double-double action. Freshman Destiny Pitts finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, notching the first of her young career.
“It’s really nice to see, especially a freshman coming out in only her third game getting a double-double,” said head coach Marlene Stollings. “And then the poise of [Bell], and what she’s taken from last year into this year, and how she’s playing. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Carlie Wagner added 17 points, shooting 7-for-12. That seemed to be a theme for Minnesota: good shooting. The team shot 50 percent for the game, and 92.3 percent from the free throw line. By the end of the first half, the Gophers got off to a 55-29 lead; a lead that they never let go of.
“We want to start all games strong,” Stollings said. “It’s something that we wanted to adjust. Last year we didn’t feel like we did that very well. We want to start the game strong, we want to start each quarter strong. I think we did that. In the third quarter, fourth quarter, I thought we started both of those very powerful.”
Other noticeable performances included Taiye Bello and Jasmine Brunson, who finished with 10 points apiece, and Gadiva Hubbard, who scored nine points. The Gophers came out early and put the pressure on VCU, and never really let up the entire game. That pressure caused VCU to turn the ball over 18 times, compared to Minnesota’s 10 turnovers.
Despite the blowout, the team recognized that it had to maintain that pace and intensity over 40 minutes, not just one or two quarters; the sign of an experienced group.
“Keeping the pace going for each game,” Bell said. “I think these games are the times where we can practice this so that it can just flow for the games that we have in the conference.”
The Gophers will host Boston College Sunday where the team will look to keep improving even after their early dominant performances.
“I also think we can work on individual defense and team defense all-around because it can help us improve for the next game,” Pitts said.