Gophers thrash UMD to put Winona loss to bed

After an exhibition loss Wednesday, Minnesota beat the Bulldogs 77-45.

Gophers thrash UMD to put Winona loss to bed

Josh Katzenstein

After a disappointing exhibition loss to Winona State on Wednesday night, the Minnesota womenâÄôs basketball team looked to redeem itself before opening the regular season. With Minnesota-Duluth in town, the Gophers controlled the ball from the opening tip, trailing only once during the game en route to a 77-45 victory. Both teams started slow, with Minnesota not breaking double digits until nearly five minutes in. However, after a 3-point play from sophomore forward Jackie Voigt , the Gophers began pouring on the points. Although Minnesota pulled ahead with a decisive victory, turnovers from both teams tell the story of SundayâÄôs contest. Minnesota-Duluth had 30 turnovers, leading to 33 Gophers points. But Minnesota wasnâÄôt secure with the ball by any means against its Division II opponent. The Gophers gave the ball up 25 times, but managed to overcome the miscues. Leading the way for Minnesota was a pair of guards, sophomore Kiara Buford and freshman Leah Cotton . Cotton came off the bench and scored 15 points in 15 minutes. The 5-foot-8-inch freshman showed poise and aggression as she attacked the basket from all angles, drawing fouls left and right. âÄúI thought I did pretty good,âÄù Cotton said. âÄúI was happy. I was excited. I think I came out with a lot more energy this game than I did last game because I was nervous last game.âÄù Cotton, who only played seven minutes in WednesdayâÄôs loss, added four steals and went 7-for-10 from the free-throw line; she had more attempts than the rest of the team combined (7). Buford, the starter, was not to be outdone at her own position, scoring 19 points, including 12 in the second half. Behind Buford, the Gophers opened an untouchable lead, which reached as many as 44 with about seven minutes remaining in the second half. âÄú[Head coach Pam Borton] did say keep the pressure on, keep the intensity up,âÄù Buford said. âÄúWe didnâÄôt want to come out, just because we were winning, and lose our lead or relax.âÄù The Gophers did not relax and made clear that they were not going to let this game slip. Minnesota played with full-court pressure for the entire game, even when up 40 points, which Borton said will help the bench players in the future. âÄúThey need to understand what we need from them in a real game starting on [Nov. 15],âÄù she said. âÄúI think we did back off as far as who was on the floor, but I think we still have to get ready and do the things that we want to do to get them prepared for next Sunday.âÄù The Gophers open up regular season play next Sunday at Williams Arena with a 2 p.m. tip-off.