Kenisha Bell, Gophers women’s basketball team stay unbeaten by crushing Air Force
The Gophers record remained perfect Saturday at Williams Arena, even of their play was a bit less than perfect in a 67-50 victory over Air Force.
Down 10 entering the fourth quarter, Air Force used a 7-0 run to pull within 42-39. But Kenisha Bell scored six points in a 9-2 run and the Gophers were off, finishing the game on a 25-11 run.
Bell led all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting from the field. She also had nine rebounds. Destiny Pitts had 16, including the teams lone three-pointer.
Air Force (4-4) was led by Kaelin Immel with 16 points.
The good news: The 20th-ranked Gophers (7-0 in Lindsay Whalens first year as coach) remained stout on defense, holding Air Force to 29.5-percent shooting and forcing 20 Falcons turnovers. The Gophers took over the game with a 15-0 run in the second quarter that put them in control. Minnesota scored 23 points off Air Force turnovers.
Not so good? The Gophers shot only 23-for-59 (39 percent), made only one of ten three-pointers and even struggled at the free-throw line, shooting only 20-for-39. As they did while upsetting No. 12 Syracuse on Thursday, the Gophers made up for their shooting struggles with defense and rebounding.
An 11-3 run that started in the first quarter gave Air Force a 13-12 lead on two free throws 1andfrac12; minutes into the second quarter.
Then Bell took over. She drove for a score, then she stole the ball and fed Pitts for a fast break that turned into a three-point play. Bell then drove for another score. In all, she had eight points in that 15-0 run that put the Gophers up 27-14 on two free throws by freshman Mercedes Staples.
The first half ended with the Gophers up 30-16 after holding Air Force to 1-for-17 shooting and five points in the second quarter, forcing seven Falcons turnovers in the process.
The Gophers were up 36-16 in the third quarter when Whalen liberally used her substitutes. The result was a 14-1 Air Force run that pulled the Falcons within 37-30 before Bell and Pitts returned and coaxed the lead back to 10 entering the fourth.