Women's basketball: Kelley, Gophers race to victory
By Sam GordonSt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Was it the Border Battle, or a pickup game? It was hard to tell at times. But it ended in another Gophers victory. Four Gophers starters scored in double figures, led by Shae Kelley with 33 point...
By Sam Gordon
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Was it the Border Battle, or a pickup game?
It was hard to tell at times. But it ended in another Gophers victory.
Four Gophers starters scored in double figures, led by Shae Kelley with 33 points, and Minnesota’s women’s basketball team overcame a loosey-goosey first-half performance to beat rival Wisconsin 93-82.
Almost every 50-50 call went Minnesota’s way - especially in the first half. The Gophers (19-6, 8-5 Big Ten) took advantage and made 13 of 15 first-half free throws en route to a 38-28 halftime lead despite shooting 12 of 37 from the field.
But Minnesota tightened up in the second half and held off the comeback-minded Badgers, who were sharp in the second half despite shooting just one free throw through the first 31-plus minutes.
Both teams were sloppy at times, though, which favored Minnesota and its up-tempo offense.
The Badgers (8-15, 4-9) joined Minnesota in a race up and down the floor in the second half, and both teams fell into jack-it-up-as-fast-as-possible mode for stretches of the half.
Wisconsin guard Nicole Bauman caught fire from three-point range and kept the Badgers in the game. She made six three-pointers en route to a team-high 22 points.
But the Gophers slowed the game down late and ran their offense through Amanda Zahui B., the conference’s best center. “Swedish Shaq” asserted herself in the post and helped the Gophers stay ahead with several key baskets.
Zahui B. finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Carlie Wagner had 17 points. Point guard Shayne Mullaney had 14 points and nine assists. Kelley also had 14 rebounds.
UConn tops field
With selection Monday about a month away, the NCAA women’s basketball committee on Wednesday gave coaches, players and fans a look at where the top teams are.
There isn’t much of a surprise that Connecticut is the overall No. 1 seed. South Carolina, Notre Dame and Tennessee are the other top teams. The committee was impressed with UConn’s 25-point win over the Gamecocks on Monday night.
“Whoever would win that game would be the No. 1 overall seed,” committee chair Dru Hancock said in a phone interview. “We felt very confident about South Carolina as a clear No. 2. Notre Dame’s body of work distinguished them from the other three teams. Tennessee narrowly got in as the four seed edging Maryland and Baylor.”
Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley was proud when she heard of her potential No. 1 seed.
“It’s amazingly exciting for us,” she said. “Our players put us in position to be in this position, which is possibly hosting and being a No. 1 seed. It hasn’t happened overnight, I think it’s progressed to this point. I think it’s great for this program to be seen in this light. And I hope other programs are looking at us to be a model to doing things the right way.”
The committee also put out a list of the next 16 teams, in alphabetical order. Maryland and Iowa were the only Big Ten teams selected.
“We had some robust conversation to do this,” Hancock said. “Folks I’ve talked to said there’s been a lot of support for this as it generates some interest and buzz. It reminds people that we are going back to top 16 seeds hosting. By giving the top 20 it gets people ready for the possibility that they might be able to host.”
The women’s committee met over the past few days in Indianapolis and came up with its list, which likely will change over the next month.
“The biggest difficulty with coming up with the top 20 was that we had situations where teams hadn’t played the best teams in their conference yet,” said Hancock, who is the senior associate commissioner of the Big 12. “Some teams have had a chance to get top 25, top 50 wins against teams that hadn’t done it yet. There are a couple teams left out of the top 20 narrowly like Princeton and Mississippi State. Their resumes are so different. It’s tough to measure them against each other.”
Princeton is the lone unbeaten team left in women’s college basketball.
Five teams in the Pac-12 were among the 20 schools, including Arizona State, which isn’t able to host the first two rounds because of a scheduling conflict at the school with gymnastics. Oregon State, California, Stanford and Washington joined Arizona State.
Louisville also was on the list, but the Cardinals can’t host because the men’s NCAA tournament is using their arena on those dates. Duke, Florida State and North Carolina were the other Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
“This is just a snapshot on Feb. 11,” Hancock said. “It could look a whole lot different on Feb. 12 and we were looking at RPIs this morning and some of that changed overnight. There could be some significant changes when we get back together in March.”
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