EUGENE, Ore. – There aren’t many stages bigger than the NCAA tournament, but freshman Destiny Pitts wasn’t rattled at all with 20 points in Friday’s 89-77 opening-round win against Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“I’m just really grateful,” Pitts said. “I just give credit to my teammates and coaches because they prepared me for this tournament. They told me not to put too much pressure on myself and just ‘do what you do.’ ”
The Gophers set an NCAA tournament school record with 10 three-pointers vs. the Phoenix. Pitts led the team in threes, shooting 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, which included scoring nine points on 3-for-3 shooting from long distance in the first quarter.
Pitts, who already holds the U freshman record with 86 three-pointers, made her biggest shot of her season so far late in the fourth quarter Friday. After Laken James banked in a three to give Green Bay a 72-71 lead, Pitts answered with her fifth shot from deep to give Minnesota the lead for good with 5:56 left.
“We put our focus on defense and on rebounding,” Pitts said. “So our defense led to our offense and we were able to drive more and draw more fouls to get to the free throw line.”
Seniors Carlie Wagner and Jessie Edwards combined for 27 points Friday to help the Gophers extend their college career for another game.
Wagner shot just 5-for-13 from the field, but she still managed to score 15 points and played well defensively on the perimeter. Edwards came off the bench to contribute 12 points and nine rebounds, including five offensive boards.
The biggest rebound of the game for Edwards was after Kenisha Bell’s errant free throw with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. She snatched down the missed foul shot and gave the Gophers another possession up 81-77.
“She was huge,” Gophers coach Marlene Stollings said of Edwards. “That’s the first thing I actually talked about when we went into the locker room. Just how big she played for us down the stretch … she was outstanding.”
• Green Bay freshman Lyndsey Robson, a Burnsville native, scored nine points.
• The Gophers shot 25-for-29 from the foul line.