INDIANAPOLIS – Destiny Pitts never knew how poorly she was shooting from three-point range in Friday’s Big Ten tournament quarterfinal against Iowa.
Her Gophers teammates weren’t going to tell Pitts, either. They hoped sooner or later her shots would drop.
And they did when the Gophers needed it most in a 90-89 victory against the Hawkeyes at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The 5-10 Detroit native and Big Ten freshman of the year opened the game 1-for-12 from three-point range. But Pitts scored 11 of her 14 points on 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter. Her 15 three-point attempts were second most in Big Ten tourney history.
“I’ve definitely been struggling the last few games shooting-wise,” Pitts said. “Carlie [Wagner] and the coaches are always just like, ‘You got this. Just keep shooting. You don’t put up those extra shots for nothing.’ They know how hard I work on my shooting. That really gave me the confidence going into the fourth quarter.”
Pitts entered Friday’s game in a horrendous shooting slump. She went 8-for-33 from the field in the final two regular season games, including 3-for-17 from three.
That didn’t stop Pitts from launching bomb after bomb from as deep as the NBA three-point line against the Hawkeyes. She went scoreless in the first half and was just 1-for-8 from long distance in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a different story, though. Iowa took its biggest lead 70-65 early in the period, but Pitts scored eight consecutive points to keep it close, including two threes.
Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, who scored a Big Ten tourney-record 48 points, converted a three-point play for an 87-85 advantage with 1:23 to go. But Pitts responded with a clutch three from the corner.
The Gophers advanced to their first Big Ten tournament semifinal since 2005. That year they lost 55-49 to Michigan State in the title game. … Minnesota’s starting five scored 84 points.