Ohm clutch again as Gophers beat Charlotte

Minnesota hit seven of its last 10 free throws to pull away from the 49ers in the final minutes of the contest.

Paul Cordes

What looked like it was going to be another easy win for the Minnesota women’s basketball team quickly turned into the first real challenge of the year for the young Gophers.

Minnesota, however, was able to hold on and pull out a 78-66 win against Charlotte on Tuesday in front of 4,267 people at Williams Arena.

The early part of the first half was dominated by the Gophers as they jumped out to an 11-2 lead.

Minnesota (2-0 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) held the lead through the entire first half thanks largely to senior guard Kelly Roysland, who recorded two important three pointers and eight points in the half to give the Gophers some momentum. She had 15 points in the game.

Coach Pam Borton talked about Roysland’s ability to lead the team and give a little extra drive.

“She shows a lot of poise out there and a lot of composure,” she said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that when we need a shot, she’s going to stick a shot for us.”

But the lead Roysland led her team to would vanish just as quickly as it came.

After the 49ers made some defensive changes in the way they were guarding Roysland, they were able to pull within two and ended the half down by just four, 42-38.

Charlotte (0-1, 0-0 Atlantic 10) came out in the second half just as hungry as it had been at the end of the first.

An offensive rebound and four points off turnovers gave the 49ers the lead less than two minutes into the second half – the first time the Gophers have trailed all season.

Charlotte coach Amanda Butler credited her defense for allowing her team to be able to make a comeback late in the first half and early in the second.

The 49ers’ defense was much quicker than Minnesota’s previous opponents, and it was able to cause the Gophers’ guards to turn the ball over 16 times.

Sophomore guard Emily Fox, who led the team with 16 points, said the pressure was a change from the previous games.

“We knew our point guards were going to get a lot of pressure,” she said. “I’m not used to all the pestering, but I think we kept our composure for the most part.”

Minnesota was able to regain that composure in the second part of the half. After trailing for almost five minutes, freshman center Zoe Harper grabbed an offensive rebound and put it in for two, giving the Gophers a 54-52 lead with 12:30 to play, putting them on top for good.

Charlotte was able to make a game of it, however, staying within five points for nearly nine minutes before Minnesota was finally able to take control.

Redshirt freshman forward Katie Ohm came off the bench and hit a big three-pointer to put Minnesota up by six. On the ensuing play, Ohm was able to come away with a steal and was fouled, putting her on the line shooting one and one. She would sink both free throws and give the Gophers an eight-point lead.

“You have to be ready coming in off the bench,” Ohm said. “I got a chance to come in and I knew I needed to make something happen.”

Minnesota extended its lead by hitting seven of its last 10 free throws in the final minutes.

Borton gave credit to her team’s defense, rebounding and free throw shooting, but said it was all about which team was more aggressive.

“I told our players the most aggressive basketball team was going to win tonight, and I thought there were two very aggressive basketball teams out there,” she said. “I was proud of our character out there and how we gutted it out and pulled off a win.”