Gophers gut out tough 60-51 win at Wisconsin-Green Bay

David McCoy

Minnesota’s women’s basketball team and Wisconsin-Green Bay each came into their toughest games so far Wednesday riding high on recent blowout victories and averaging more than 70 points per game.

But it was defensive play that ruled Wednesday’s game, as the 16th-ranked Gophers handed the Phoenix its first loss of the season, 60-51 Wednesday in front of a sellout crowd of 1,850 in the small gym of the Phoenix Sports Center.

“Anytime we can play a team and go into their house with them 6-0 and beat them, that says a lot about us,” Janel McCarville said. “This is our biggest game of the season so far.”

Wisconsin-Green Bay (6-1) and Minnesota (7-1) held each other to their lowest respective point totals of the year.

After Wisconsin-Green Bay forward Tiffany Mor scored her team’s first five points to give it a 5-4 lead, Minnesota answered with a 10-0 run.

But the Phoenix countered with a 13-4 run of its own to tie the game 18-18.

Two-straight baskets by McCarville capped a 6-0 Minnesota run, and then the two teams battled back and forth as the half ended 29-25 in favor of the Gophers.

McCarville led Minnesota from the field and also on the boards, scoring 16 points and securing 12 rebounds for her 35th career double-double.

“They have two very good post players, and Janel took it to them,” Shannon Schonrock said. “We need her to sit on the block and take it hard to the rim. We haven’t seen her best yet.”

After a Schonrock three-pointer gave Minnesota a 37-29 lead early in the second half, Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Mary Kulenkamp answered with a three of her own, igniting an 8-0 Phoenix run to tie the game again 37-37.

But with the score 47-45 in favor of Minnesota, April Calhoun and Schonrock then drained back-to-back threes to quickly give the Gophers a 53-45 lead with just more than three minutes left.

A late surge by Wisconsin-Green Bay pulled it within four, but seven free throws by Minnesota in the final minute secured the victory.

Minnesota coach Pam Borton said the win was in large part because of the Gophers physical play on defense.

“Going on the road, we know we have to be a more defensive team, because you don’t shoot as well on the road,” Borton said. “We want to have our identity on defense.”