Bloomington, Ind. – Kenisha Bell scored a game-high 22 points, including three on free throws in the final 15 seconds, as the Gophers edged Indiana 65-61 for their third consecutive victory.
The Gophers (16-7, 5-7 Big Ten) withstood a scoring drought — no field goals in the final 4 minutes, 15 seconds — and a 10-0 run that got the Hoosiers (17-7, 6-6) within 61-59.
Bell then made the first of two free throws with 15 seconds left and, after Taiye Bello got an offensive rebound on her miss, leading to a jump ball that gave Minnesota possession. And Bell was quickly fouled again, sinking two more free throws with 12 seconds to play for a five-point lead.
Half of Bell’s points came on free throws; she was 11-for-17 at the line and, as a team, the Gophers were 20-for-28.
“A hard fought road win tonight for our squad,” tweeted Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen.
“We started making some plays [in the second half that got us back in the game,” Hoosiers coach Teri Moren said in a postgame news conference. “I think we got within one.
“Either we had a breakdown defensively or we fouled and put them at the free throw line and so that was frustrating. We could never get over the hump tonight.”
Bello had only six points but a game-high 14 rebounds, eight on offense. The other leading scorers for the visitors — who had lost three straight at Assembly Hall — were Destiny Pitts with 17 points and Irene Garrido Perez with a career-high 11. Garrido Perez went 3-for-3 on three-pointers and also made her only other shot from the field.
The Gophers led 16-8 after the first quarter — the fewest points by Indiana in an opening quarter this season.
The Hoosiers used an 8-0 run to close within 21-20 in the second quarter. Bell’s steal led to a layup and free throw with 2:45 left in the half to end the Gophers’ scoring drought and put them ahead 24-20.
Garrido Perez’s three with 40 seconds left made it 27-20 at halftime.
The Gophers shot 36.4 percent, the Hoosiers 38.6 percent.
Indiana got to the free throw line a lot less (14-for-20) and also suffered a key injury four minutes into the third quarter. Point guard Ali Patberg dislocated one of her shoulders and didn’t return.
“It was difficult to play for the first time without our point guard,” said Moren, whose Hoosiers are 3-6 since a 14-1 start.