By Cynthia Maldonado Perez | @CDMP427
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – The tenth-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-15) advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2015 after defeating No. 7 Penn State, 70-64, on Thursday night. They will go on to face No. 2 Maryland on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“Most proud of us forcing 18 turnovers and what we did with those turnovers,” said Minnesota coach Marlene Stollings. “We’re coming off a game at Maryland where we forced 21 but we didn’t do anything on the offensive end of the ball. Tonight with those 18 turnovers we scored 23 points which is a huge key in the game.”
Junior guard Carlie Wagner led the Golden Gophers by scoring a game-high 26 points and tying a career-high 10 rebounds. This is her 32nd time this season registering at least 20 points and her third double-double. Minnesota has won 24 of those 32 games.
“We just knew we had to sit down and play defense and stop dribble penetration down the middle because that’s what was really hurting us,” said Wagner. “I thought we did a lot better job the fourth quarter, coming out and sitting down and playing defense, not letting them get to the basket so easy.”
Sophomore guard Kenisha Bell contributed 13 points and matched a season high with four steals in the tournament.
“I think moving the ball with pace helped us a lot because at first we kind of were playing casual, going through the offensive sets, without being a threat,” said Bell. “And then the fourth quarter we just talked about that and had to pick up the intensity.”
For the Lady Lions (19-10), sophomore Teniya Page’s career-high 35 points tied for the third-most in a Big Ten Tournament game and tied for the most in a loss. Page became the fourth sophomore in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark with 1,033. Also, Page holds fourth place in career 30-point games in Penn State history with five.
Senior guard Sierra Moore finished the game with a double-double, scoring 13 points and 11 rebounds. She is in second place in the rebounding list for this year’s tournament.
“They’ve been key players for us all season long,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said about Page and Moore. “And they’re the barometer. You know coming into every game that they’re going to compete, they’re going to fight.”
Freshman guard Amari Carter recorded a game-high five assists, the 13th time this season that she had at least that many.
Minnesota’s victory was just the fourth time that a No. 10 seed has defeated a No. 7 seed in 23 attempts at the Big Ten Tournament.
The Golden Gophers outscored the Nittany Lions, 26-17, in the first quarter.
Minnesota entered the game with three consecutive losses and four in the last six games, including a 77-66 loss at Penn State on Feb. 8. Minnesota’s most recent loss was a 93-60 defeat at Maryland on Feb. 26. The Golden Gophers have lost their two games against the Terrapins this season.