Women’s hoops pulls away, defeats Creighton 82-71

Senior Lindsay Whalen dropped in 30 points leading the Gophers to their sixth straight win of the season.

Dan Miller

Minnesota’s ninth-ranked women’s basketball team didn’t have the quick start it was accustomed to in the young season Thursday night at Williams Arena.

But the Gophers handled Creighton’s 40-minute full-court press and beat the Bluejays 82-71 to improve to 6-0 and gave coach Pam Borton her 100th career win.

Minnesota senior Lindsay Whalen and junior Janel McCarville carried the Gophers scoring 30 and 21 points respectively.

In the first half, the Bluejays showed they weren’t intimidated coming into Williams Arena to face the Gophers.

McCarville scored four quick points as the Gophers looked to take advantage of the Bluejays’ undersized inside players.

“We wanted to get mis-matches in the paint,” Borton said. “That is one place where they are very vulnerable is in the paint and that’s where we wanted to do a lot of scoring.”

But the Bluejays used their smaller players to put on an intense full-court press that threw the Gophers out of synch.

The Bluejays stayed tight with the Gophers behind the solid play of senior All-America candidate Christy Neneman, who led the Bluejays with 20 points.

Creighton’s Dayna Finch hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one at 14-13.

Whalen countered for the Gophers with two no-look assists and a three-pointer that capped an 8-0 Gophers run that pushed the lead to 30-19 with 4:31 to play in the half.

But the Bluejays made 16-6 run to end the half, capped by a buzzer-beating running shot by Neneman.

In the second half, Minnesota went back to McCarville, who again opened with four quick points.

But the Bluejays kept it tight with Neneman draining a jumper at the top of the key to tie the game at 50 at the 14-minute mark.

After a timeout the Gophers went on a 9-0 run with McCarville scoring back-to-back baskets bringing the crowd to their feet and putting the Gophers ahead for good.

“We’ve been working to get the ball into the paint in practice,” McCarville said. “The guards did a great job getting the ball in to me to get some good shots.”

Whalen scored 19 points after halftime and got the crowd of 5,011 back in to the game.

“I made a point to be more aggressive,” Whalen said. “Nine times out of 10 the more aggressive players are either going to get fouled or make something good happen.”

And both happened for Whalen. She was a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line.

“The difference in the second half is that we didn’t do the job we did on Whalen in the first half,” Bluejays coach Jim Flanery said. “She is just a load to handle in transition.”

The Gophers will next travel to Kansas City, Mo., to take on Missouri-Kansas City on Sunday afternoon.