Gophers’ bench keys win at Michigan

by David McCoy

With less than five minutes gone by and Michigan in the lead Sunday, Minnesota women’s basketball sophomore Jamie Broback hit the floor with a sprained ankle.

Without its second-leading scorer, the team looked to be hurting too.

But led by Broback’s replacement, fellow sophomore Liz Podominick, the Gophers’ bench responded admirably, scoring 36 points to lead Minnesota to a 76-55 win Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“After Broback got hurt, I felt that I needed and everyone needed to step it up,” Podominick said. “And I was fortunate to get some good plays.”

Podominick scored 14 points on 4-of-5 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws, while Kelly Roysland added 12, Katie Alsdurf scored six and Lauren Lacey chipped in four.

Roysland also broke Minnesota’s all-time school record for consecutive free throws. She went 6-for-6 from the line to push her streak to 31 straight.

“It’s kind of cool,” Roysland said. “It’s cool to say I hold a record at the school I play for. We’ll see how long it will stand, and hopefully I can keep adding to it.”

The Wolverines’ 10-8 lead when Broback went down would be their last, as April Calhoun knocked down a three pointer to give the Gophers a 11-10 lead.

Moments later, Minnesota’s bench contributed a 9-0 run on back-to-back three pointers by Alsdurf and another by Podominick, helping the Gophers to a 33-27 halftime lead.

The play of Minnesota’s bench was especially crucial with starting forward Shannon Bolden playing just three minutes in the first half with foul trouble, as well as the slow start by the Gophers’ leading scorer, Janel McCarville.

“I think our bench played awesome,” McCarville said. “Especially with two starters on the bench in the first half. Michigan just didn’t capitalize.”

McCarville scored just seven points in the first half and did not make a basket until nearly nine minutes had gone by.

But she had a nearly flawless second half, finishing with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 15 rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal.

Tabitha Pool and Kelly Helvey both tallied 16 points in the losing effort for the Wolverines.

The Gophers matched every Wolverines basket with two of their own through almost the entire second half.

Minnesota shot 75 percent in the second half to finish with 59.1-percent accuracy for the game.

Broback returned to the court with just less than 13 minutes remaining and finished with seven points. She said after the game that her twisted ankle felt much better.

By then, the bench players had already given Minnesota a sufficient cushion.

“Whenever a bench player comes in, we want to contribute,” Roysland said. “Liz, I and Katie all felt that we could help with scoring, rebounding, whatever without a couple of our key players. I felt we did that today.”