Gophers look to break on through vs. Spartans

Michigan State is the only Big Ten team coach Borton hasn’t beaten at Minnesota.

by David McCoy

Midway through the 2001-02 season, a flood in the ticket office of the Sports Pavilion prompted Minnesota’s women’s basketball team to move its games temporarily to Williams Arena.

A flood of success followed, and the Gophers have remained there ever since, losing only four games since moving to Williams Arena.

“We are always really confident at home,” junior Shannon Bolden said. “And I think we have to take care of our home court.”

The most-recent loss was to top-ranked Louisiana State earlier this year, and Minnesota was defeated by 25th-ranked Ohio State at home last year as well.

The other two losses were both to the only Big Ten team Minnesota has never beaten at Williams Arena – Michigan State.

The 12th-ranked Gophers and ninth-ranked Spartans tip off at 7 p.m. today at Williams Arena.

In fact, Michigan State (20-3, 9-2 Big Ten) is also the only Big Ten team Minnesota coach Pam Borton has never beaten, as she owns an 0-3 record against the Spartans since joining the Gophers before the 2002-03 season.

The Gophers (18-4, 8-2) had the chance to do away with at least one of those streaks Jan. 16 in East Lansing, Mich.

But they failed to capitalize, missing numerous early layups and shooting a dismal 27.6 percent in the first half and then falling apart defensively in the second half to lose 62-49.

“We lost our aggressiveness offensively, especially in the second half,” Bolden said. “We got panicked, and we got out of ourselves a little bit and started lunging after balls and not playing our defense that we’re used to.”

Along with its other road loss to Penn State, Borton said the loss at Michigan State was the low point of the team’s season.

“You don’t mind losing games when you’ve given your best effort and you’ve played like warriors out there, and we didn’t do that in both games,” Borton said. “I’m probably disappointed with both Big Ten games, and it’s not that we lost, but how we lost them.”

But tonight, Minnesota will have the chance to leave that all behind.

A win at home against the Spartans would not only make amends for the poor showing in East Lansing, but it would also reverse the trends and give the Gophers a quality win to add to their resume.

“We lost at their place twice, and they beat us on our home court last year,” guard Shannon Schonrock said. “And I think that really ticked us off in a way, and we’re itching to get them back.”