Jessie Edwards, a 6-3 junior center, scored a career-high 29 points as the Gophers women’s basketball team edged Belmont University 75-74 on Wednesday afternoon at Williams Arena. She had 11 of her points in the fourth quarter, two on free throws with seven seconds left that put Minnesota (8-4) ahead by three points.
The Bruins (6-5) missed a tying three-point shot afterward, settling for a putback.
“I was very proud of her poise,” Gophers coach Marlene Stollings said, referring to Edwards. “We put her in positions where she could hit those little 5-foot jump shots, 8-foot jump shots.
“ You could see her looking around to pass a few times, it was like she was so open. But we’re confident she can hit those shots. She takes a lot of those in practice and in position work. We knew the middle was a weakness of their zone so we really wanted to get the ball in there and she knocked down shot after shot there down the stretch for us.”
Edwards made 11 of 15 shots from the field and was 7-for-8 on free throws. She also had five rebounds and one block.
“They just left me wide open for those shots and I said, ‘I’ll take them’ so I did,” said Edwards, who is from Leeming, Australia, and transferred to Minnesota as a sophomore.
“I have worked really hard over the offseason and this summer to get a lot stronger,” she said, “because the first year I was here I got pushed around a little bit inside with the stronger posts.
“I knew I had to get stronger over the summer, so I think that now I am able to utilize my strength and play a little bit more physical than I was before and it’s starting to all come together now.”
Guards Carlie Wagner and Kenisha Bell each scored 16 points for Minnesota, coming off a 40-point loss to No. 6-ranked South Carolina on Sunday.
Teammate Joanna Hedstrom, a starting forward, took only one shot and went scoreless but had a game-high 11 rebounds, six on offense.
Darby Maggard led Belmont, the defending Ohio Valley Conference champion located in Nashville, with 23 points. She was seven of 14 on three-pointers.
The Gophers trailed by two points at halftime against the Bruins but took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter.