Today was a day of high intensity for all eight teams that played in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. Iowa started the day with a win over Northwestern. The two teams recently matched up only four days earlier in Evanston, Illinois where Iowa defeated the Wildcats. Iowa will move on to the quarterfinals tomorrow, March 8, and match up against the No. 2 seed Nebraska. Last time Iowa and Nebraska met up was in the regular season. The Cornhuskers defeated the Hawkeyes 66-46.
The upcoming game will definitely be a challenge for the Hawkeyes seeing as they have not been able to gain a victory over Corhuskers all season. Nebraska has never won a Big Ten tournament, but they have only been a part of the Big Ten Conference since 2011. Last year they made it to the championship game but lost to the No.4 seed Purdue.
Even though the Hawkeyes have their work cut out for them, they are willing and ready to accept the challenge. Senior Morgan Johnson says she is looking forward to playing Nebraska.
Junior guard Theairra Taylor acknowledges that Nebraska has some great scorers, specifically naming Jordan Hooper amongst others, on their team but says that Iowa has improved defensively which will be a strength for them in the game. Taylor also commented another strength of Iowa’s which is their ability to share the ball. “We definitely pride ourselves on team basketball…I think that’s something that sets us apart.” Their season has definitely reflected this.
Following the Hawkeye’s game against Northwestern was the Wisconsin and Illinois game. In a nail bitting game, the No. 6 seed Illinois team fell to the No. 11 seed Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers struggled to get a rhythm early in the first half but rallied in the second half to defeat the Fighting Illini.
Illinois definitely came into the game with a confident attitude which was justified early in the game but surely did not last. With 45 seconds left in the game Illinois’ Amber Moore shot a three pushing them ahead just enough to take the lead but within the final 5 seconds of the game the Badgers’ claimed two free throw shots leading them to victory. The Badgers’ will advance to play the No. 3 seed Purdue.
Next up in Big Ten Tournament play were the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The last time the two teams met up was on February 21 at Ohio State where Minnesota was able to squeeze by with a win, 57-56. Minnesota started the game strong and sophomore guard Rachel Banham owned the floor sinking threes with ease. She ended the first half as the leading scorer for the Golden Gophers with 14 points.
The lead scorer for Ohio State at halftime was senior guard Tayler Hill. Ohio State had difficulty dealing with Minnesota’s defense and ran out of time on the shot clock on numerous possessions. At halftime the score was 25-24, Minnesota. As the second half ensued the Gophers seemed to lose their edge and really began to fall apart offensively. Shots were not falling and the Buckeyes were outscoring them. Banham’s succession of threes were nowhere to be found.
Towards the end of the second half Minnesota suffered a great deal with fouling. At the 1:30 mark the Gophers had racked up 10 fouls against the Buckeyes in comparison to OSU’s three. Ohio State held on in the end and defeated Minnesota 58-47. The No. 9 seed Ohio State will advance to play the No. 1 seed Penn State tomorrow.
The final game of the day was between the No. 5 seed Michigan Wolverines and the No. 12 seed Indiana Hoosiers. The two teams faced each other last in Bloomington, Indiana where Michigan shut down the Hoosiers 61-43. Indiana is 2-14 in conference play and Michigan, 9-7. As far as Big Ten Tournament history, Michigan has a 10-18 record and Indiana has a 14-17 record. Michigan put up the first points against Indiana in the tournament game and continued to sink shots that were uncontested by Indiana for quite some time.
Extremely early in the game Indiana’s number 55 Milika Taufa incurred a personal foul (charge) sending Michigan to the free throw line. Michigan led the Hoosiers the entire game, with their largest lead being 27 points. The Hoosiers managed to match the Wolverines in steals and blocks but were no match for Michigan’s scoring. Nicole Embald was the lead scorer on Michigan with 14 points and Indian’s Jasmine McGhee carried them with 12 points.
The Wolverines blew past the Hoosiers ending the night with 67-40 win.