RICHMOND, VA. – Sophomore Kenisha Bell played her first game as a Gopher on Tuesday night and it was a memorable one.
The 5-9 transfer from Marquette, who sat out Minnesota’s opener for unexplained reasons, scored 24 points and had eight assists as the Gophers defeated Virginia Commonwealth 79-69 in nonconference women’s basketball.
Bell hit nine of her 17 shots and six of nine free throws. Two other Gophers also had big games. Carlie Wagner had 26 points on 11-for-27 shooting, including 4-for-10 behind the arc. Jessie Edwards, a 6-3 junior center, added 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Edwards got 10 of her points in the second half.
This was a homecoming game, of sorts, for Gophers coach Marlene Stollings. She coached the Rams from 2012-14 before taking the Minnesota job. Her last team there went 22-10, and averaged 75.8 points and made 235 three-pointers, both school records.
Scoring and three-pointers could be strengths of this Gophers team, too. Minnesota (2-0) is averaging 91 points per game and has made 17 threes already, five against VCU.
Keira Robinson led VCU (1-1) with 20 points.
The Rams led 13-12 after one quarter, but an 18-2 run in the second helped the Gophers take a 41-22 halftime lead.
Minnesota shot 48 percent from the field to the Rams’ 34 percent; the Gophers had a 20-7 edge in second-chance points and a 24-15 advantage in points off turnovers.
Wagner scored 10 points in a row for Minnesota in one stretch of the fourth quarter then fed Bell on a layup to put the Gophers ahead 76-60 with under three minutes to play.