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Gustafson and Mitchell pacing Big Ten Women’s Player of the Year race

Who have been the Big Ten’s best players so far?

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Lexington Regional- Ohio State vs Notre Dame
Ohio State Buckeyes guard Kelsey Mitchell (3) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the semifinals of the Lexington Regional of the women's 2017 NCAA Tournament at Rupp Arena. Notre Dame won 99-76
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As the Big Ten women’s basketball season shifts into conference play, Iowa’s Megan Gustafson and Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell continue to duke it out in the Player of the Year race.

Both players had big weeks to share the conference’s Player of the Week honors.

Mitchell is second in the entire country in scoring with 26.2 points per game behind only Texas Southern’s Joyce Kennerson’s 26.6 points. Mitchell, the three-time All-American, was at her best against Cincinnati posting 31 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds. It was her sixth 30-point affair of the year and a career high in assists. The Buckeyes also took down Dartmouth. Mitchell is a member a Buckeyes team that also is second in the nation in scoring with 91.4 points per game.

Gustafson continues to rack up double-doubles with her 26-point, 10-rebound effort on Sunday against Northern Iowa for her 11th double-double of the year — tops in the nation. She is also shooting 70.3 percent from the field which paces the Big Ten and is third in the entire country.

The junior from Port Wing, Wisc. is averaging 21.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

Aso named on the Weekly Honor Roll was Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty, Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell, and Penn State’s Teniya Page.

Penn State went on the road and took down in-state rival Pittsburgh, 59-48, on Sunday behind a significant effort from Page, who posted a game-high 27 points in 38 minutes of action.

Flaherty, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 21.9 points per game, shot 56 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 24 points per game in Michigan’s two wins as the Wolverines improved to 10-2.

Bell led the Golden Gophers with 26 points with eight assists, six rebounds and four steals in Minnesota’s lone contest last week against Cal Poly, a 112-68 win, on Dec. 13. Bell is tied for the Big Ten lead in assists with 6.0 per game. She shares the lead with Michigan State’s Taryn McCutchen.

Bell’s teammate Destiny Pitts picked up her third Freshman of the Week after scoring 23 points in Minnesota’s win against Cal Poly. In 12 games this year, the Detroit native is nearly averaging a double-double with 11.8 points per game and 8.5 rebounds.

Also, around the Big Ten, the Purdue Boilermakers advanced to the final of the Basketball Traveler’s Inc. Invitational by beating Eastern Washington, 65-40, and Tennessee Martin, 60-58. Purdue will play Saint Mary’s on Thursday in the final before entering Big Ten play.

Purdue sophomore Ae’Rianna Harris has had a big invitational so far, including a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double and five blocks in the win against UT-Martin. She posted 13 points and six rebounds in the first game against EWU.

Each team has about just one non-conference game left before Big Ten play begins on Dec. 28.