Roysland rolls: Backup guard runs over Illinois

Backup guard Kelly Roysland scored 19 points in 25 minutes in a 80-68 Gophers win.

by David McCoy

Kelly Roysland came off the bench to give teammate April Calhoun a breather.

By the end of the day, Roysland’s dead-on shooting left the entire Illinois roster gasping for air.

Roysland scored a career-high 19 points in just 25 minutes of play, leading Minnesota’s women’s basketball team to an 80-68 victory over Illinois on Sunday at Williams Arena.

“Just to be able to have someone come off the bench and give us that kind of spark,” Janel McCarville said. “Coach always talks about how she wants us to

get better when people come off the bench and push us, and, yeah, I think Kelly did that today.”

After the Illini took a 12-11 lead early, the Gophers (16-3, 16-1 Big Ten) went on an 18-4 run that began on a Roysland three and ended on another Roysland basket.

Roysland put down a total of 14 points in only 12 minutes in taking the Gophers to a 43-24 halftime lead, finishing with perfect 6-for-6 shooting at the break.

“I think it just helped to get off to a good start and kind of give me some confidence back,” Roysland said.

Though she didn’t start the second half either, Roysland’s hot hand compelled Gophers coach Pam Borton to sub her in less than a minute in.

Roysland soon sunk another three-pointer and nabbed an Illini (11-6, 3-4) pass, taking it the other way for an easy lay-in and getting the entire crowd of 10,033 on its feet and roaring before missing her first basket – a three-pointer – just less than five minutes in.

“It was great to be able to get some open shots and some open looks and to knock them down,” Roysland said. “And it just felt good to get on a roll. My teammates hit me with some great passes, and I was able to finish the play.”

When Roysland finally did miss, it only got her teammates going.

The Gophers went on a 19-9 run without a Roysland basket, pushing their lead to 70-38 – their biggest of the game.

As usual, Gophers defensive stopper Shannon Bolden had a lot to do with that.

Though Big Ten leading scorer Angelina Williams, who averages 20 points in conference games, scored 24 points, only eight were scored on Bolden.

Almost all of Williams’ points were scored on Minnesota’s bench players, as they surrendered a 17-0 run to close the game – making the final score indicate a much closer game than it actually was.

But with the stellar game by Roysland, there’s no doubt Minnesota’s bench players are doing just fine in Borton’s book.

“That makes us a team that’s impossible to defend when we’ve got someone coming off the bench like Kelly, playing like that,” Borton said. “Kelly came off and took great shots and was really feeling it today.”