Minnesota wins fifth-straight Subway Classic

The Gophers beat Arkansas State 82-45 Friday and Virginia Tech 70-56 Saturday.

by David McCoy

After a dominant thrashing and a near collapse, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team won its early-season home tournament for the fifth-straight season in the Subway Classic on Friday and Saturday night at Williams Arena.

Minnesota (3-1) dropped its Final Four banner in a pregame ceremony and proceeded to drop 82 points on Arkansas State in an 82-45 win Friday before nearly dropping a huge lead in the championship game versus Virginia Tech on Saturday, surviving 70-56.

After opening up a 30-6 lead against the Hokies (1-1) midway through the first half thanks to eight three-pointers in the first nine minutes, all things pointed toward an easy night.

But Minnesota let Virginia Tech come back, and the Hokies, who beat Valparaiso 64-57 Friday, outscored Minnesota 50-29 thereafter, pulling within 11 with just more than three minutes to play.

“We started off very well, and we were going on all cylinders,” Shannon Schonrock said. “But then, in a couple of spurts, we started to fizzle a little bit, and great teams don’t let that happen. We know we’ve got a lot to work on.”

Foul trouble from Minnesota helped Virginia Tech’s cause. Shannon Bolden, April Calhoun and Liz Podominick all fouled out as Minnesota collected 25 total team fouls.

Podominick had a particularly rough night, with her five fouls coming in only six minutes of play.

But the Gophers prevailed, and Jamie Broback’s 23 points helped her garner tournament MVP honors.

Janel McCarville’s double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds propelled her onto the all-tournament team as well.

Wearing a bandage over her heavily taped left hand, McCarville made a huge impact

in her return to the Gophers’ lineup in Friday’s home

opener against Arkansas State (1-1).

But instead of scoring, McCarville – who only took five shots all night – hooked up her teammates, who scored 19 points off her eight assists.

The rest of the Gophers followed McCarville’s example, tallying a team total of 25 assists.

“We did a great job sharing the basketball,” coach Pam Borton said. “That was something we really emphasized, and we hope it will be a typical game for us.”

Bolden and Schonrock both scored 15, and Broback added 13.

McCarville’s presence was felt particularly hard by Arkansas State guard Ali Carter, whom McCarville bowled over near midcourt on a screen, forcing Carter out of the game temporarily.

“I guess it was just a routine screen,” McCarville said. “It makes them think twice about picking our guards up at half court.”

McCarville’s eight rebounds also helped the Gophers double-up Arkansas State on the boards, 42-21.

After letting the Indians hang around for the first eight minutes – they trailed 15-12 at one point – the Gophers put together runs of 20-0 and 18-0 to put the Indians away for good.

The Gophers frustrated Arkansas State, who lost 82-61 in the third place game, into a 17.4 percent second-half shooting percentage while using their entire healthy roster.

McCarville consistently drew at least a double team, allowing her teammates a night full of wide-open three-pointers.

Bolden knocked down a trio of threes, and Schonrock, Broback and Calhoun combined for three more.

“That’s what Janel does,” Schonrock said. “She just has a knack for finding us, and it makes us really balanced when you have a post player that can score and pass like that.”