Seniors sent off with snoozer of a win over Northwestern at Williams Arena

Minnesota led 18-1 in the first half of Sunday’s senior-day win at the Barn.

Emily Wickstrom

There were no standout stars, but that’s probably the way Minnesota’s women’s basketball team’s six seniors wanted their final home game to be.

The Gophers (19-8, 11-5 Big Ten) easily handled Northwestern 71-33 in a team effort Sunday in Williams Arena in front of an announced crowd of 10,273.

The seniors – guards Katie Alsdurf, Shannon Bolden, April Calhoun, Shannon Schonrock and Hannah Garry, along with center Christina Collison – all got considerable minutes and were pulled out of the game for good one by one in the second half.

“The only thing I want to say about this game is I was extremely excited for our seniors,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “It’s been a pleasure to coach them, and it’s been a pleasure to learn from them, too.”

The Gophers jumped out to an 18-1 lead, not allowing a Northwestern field goal until eight and a half minutes into the game.

Minnesota pushed its first-half lead to as many as 21 points, leading 36-16 at halftime.

In the second half, Borton sat many of her younger players in lieu of her seniors, whom she subbed in and out of the game until each were taken out toward the end.

Collison, who played a season-high 15 minutes, earned the biggest cheers of the game midway through the second half when she posted up Northwestern center Lauren Roberts, made the basket and was fouled.

It was Collison’s first three points of the season.

“I probably wasn’t going to do it,” Collison said. “Bolden said, ‘You need to make a post move and go to the basket.’ I just went for it.”

Every healthy player on the Gophers roster got into the game and 13 players scored at least one field goal.

Minnesota also had balance on the defensive end, as the 33 points the Wildcats (6-21, 2-14 Big Ten) scored was the fewest Minnesota has allowed an opponent all season.

“Our team defense has gotten a lot better,” Borton said. “We’ve got to keep our aggression up a little longer and play a little smarter and a little more disciplined.”

The win moved Minnesota into a tie for third place with Michigan State in the final Big Ten standings.

The Gophers own the tie breaker over the Spartans and will be the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament starting Thursday in Indianapolis.

“Hopefully we can play our best basketball next week,” Borton said.

Junior Kelly Roysland led Minnesota with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Calhoun and Jamie Broback had 10 and nine points, respectively.

Wildcats forward Ifeoma Okonkwo had a game-high 12 points.

“It was emotional for all of us,” Schonrock said of the senior’s last home game. “It’s hard to

actually think of it as our last game. We know we still have a lot of basketball left in us Ö But we’ve had quite a run these last few years.”