Big Ten player spotlight: Taiye Bello, Minnesota

Photo: Brad Rempel
Photo: Brad Rempel /

She sure wasn’t cold last week.

Even Polar Vortex 2019 couldn’t keep Taiye Bello and the Minnesota Golden Gophers from having a good week with wins over Northwestern and No. 17 Rutgers. After a 12-0 start for Lindsay Whalen and company, the Gophers lost seven of their eight and needed a spark in their offense in the midst of a crazy Big Ten Conference season.

They looked to Taiye Bello and she delivered with a huge week.

The 6’2 junior from Southfield, Michigan has stepped into a nice role for Whalen, averaging 14 more minutes than last season while adding 4.0 points and 6.6 rebounds in comparison to last year’s averages.

The last game of Minnesota’s losing streak occurred on Jan. 28 in a 65-55 loss to Ohio State. The team as a whole only shot 30-percent from the field, but Bello shined bright through it all, scoring 12 points and bringing in 18 rebounds, including five of them on offense. She also had two steals and four blocks in the game, impressive the Williams Arena crowd. Unfortunately for the Gophers, the ten-point loss to the Buckeyes meant having to go on the road to try to break the losing streak.

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Four days later, the Gophers did just that, defeating Northwestern 61-54. While much of Minnesota workforce stayed home to avoid the below zero temperatures, the Gophers women got hot in Evanston, knocking down 44.2-percent of their shots including six 3-point shots in the win. Bello led the team with nine rebounds, playing excellent defense in the victory.

The final game of the week for Bello and Co. came on Sunday afternoon at home against No. 17 Rutgers. With losses to ranked Michigan State and Iowa earlier this season, Minnesota was looking to add a win over a ranked Big Ten team. Thanks to Bello’s double-double, the team cruised to a 60-46 win at “The Barn” in front of a crowd of almost 5,000.

Bello was one of four Gophers to score in double figures in the win, adding 11 points to Kenisha Bell’s 19, Destiny Pitts’ 14 and Jasmine Brunson’s 13. The biggest impact Bello had in the game was on the boards where Bello had 21 rebounds, including ten on offense. It was Bello’s tenth game this season with 15 or more rebounds and the 21 total rebounds were a season high for Bello. She has had 18 or more rebounds in three of the Gophers last four games.

Minnesota (15-7) has a chance to put together another string of wins but in one of the crazier Big Ten seasons to date, every game will be a challenge for the Golden Gophers. The team travels to Bloomington on Feb. 6 for a matchup vs. Indiana before welcoming Northwestern to town on Feb. 10. From there, the Gophers have games against Purdue and Penn State before closing the season out with games against three ranked opponents in Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan State.