After a weeklong layoff, Gophers will take to the floor

Minnesota plays its first game since a Dec. 3 date with Nebraska on Saturday.

Emily Wickstrom

With four games in eight days and lots of travel, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team did not have much time for practice last week.

But this week has been different, as the Gophers had five days of practice and just one game to focus on.

No. 14 Minnesota (5-1) will return to action Saturday, hosting Washington State at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena.

The Gophers last played Dec. 3 against Nebraska.

“This week was good for us,” senior guard Shannon Bolden said.

“We’ve been coming off a couple games where we’ve had lapses on both ends of the court. We needed to get back this week… and not worry about all these other teams and just concentrate on us.”

One area of concern for Gophers coach Pam Borton after the Nebraska game was exactly what she’s been focusing on since the beginning of the season ” rebounding.

Minnesota beat the Huskers, but was outrebounded 37-24 and allowed 20 offensive rebounds.

“It’s a work in progress,” Borton said. “Everyone needs to take a little more responsibility (rebounding).”

The Gophers could get tested again on the glass on Saturday, as Washington State currently outrebounds its opponents by an average of 10 per game and junior forward Kate Benz averages 12.9 rebounds per game.

Although the Cougars (6-1) have just one loss this season, they have played a much less challenging schedule than the Gophers.

Minnesota will be the first major-conference opponent Washington State has faced this season.

“We’re probably the best team they’ve had in a few years,” Borton said.

Katie Appleton and Charmaine Jones lead the Cougars with 11.4 and 10.6 points per game, respectively.

Washington State also may see a different Minnesota starting lineup than other Gophers opponents have.

Borton said it is a “good possibility” that forward Jamie Broback will start Saturday, although no final decision has been made.

The junior leads Minnesota with 15 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

If Broback starts, it is not clear whom she will replace ” junior Liz Podominick or sophomore Natasha Williams.

“It doesn’t really matter to me who starts,” Borton said. “Everyone’s roles will continue to be the same. I’m still expecting them to do the same things as if they were starting.”