Record run leads Gophers past helpless Cougars

Minnesota’s 40-0 run in Saturday’s game is the best in school history.

Paul Cordes

Minnesota’s women’s basketball team won its third straight game as it embarrassed Chicago State on Saturday night.

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WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Lincoln, Neb.

The Gophers obliterated Chicago State 72-34 in front of 4,923 people at Williams Arena, courtesy of a 40-0 run by Minnesota.

That run was the best on record for the Gophers in school history.

Minnesota (7-2 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) shot 53.3 percent from the field in the first half, and the Cougars shot just 23.5 percent. It was the Chicago State’s worst scoring performance of the year.

The Division I Independent Cougars (3-5) looked as though they might offer some significant competition early, but as soon as Chicago State scored eight points, they went on a drought for more than 13 minutes.

They would not score again until making a free throw with a little over a minute left to play in the half, which led to possibly the loudest applause of the night from Gophers fans.

The Cougars did not hit a field goal after the 14:39 minute mark and ended the half with just 11 points. The last three points of the half came from free throws.

Minnesota didn’t have to do much to hold off Chicago State. The Cougars had several good looks at shots, including 10 in the paint, but they could never sink one.

The Gophers also benefited from Chicago State’s 17 first-half turnovers, most of which resulted from carelessness rather than great defense.

And even though the game seemed to be over once the Minnesota’s lead hit 39 in the first half, coach Pam Borton said there were still valuable things her team could take away from the game.

“I think this was a great game for our young team to learn that we have to play hard for 40 minutes no matter what the score is,” she said. “At times we looked a little flat and a little bored, but I think that’s something we have to take from this game, and learn to focus better regardless of the score.”

Freshman center Ashley Ellis-Milan had her second straight double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Ellis-Milan said she didn’t even realize the lead the Gophers were pulling away with.

“I looked at the score after I figured we were up by quite a few but I had no idea we were that far ahead,” she said. “We were just playing.”

The second half wasn’t quite as lopsided, as Chicago State was able to score 23 points. But Minnesota’s 24 second-half points were enough to give them a 38-point victory.

Borton was able to give all but two Gophers playing time in the second half and senior guard Kelly Roysland said that is how you have to take advantage of blowout games.

“When we get out to a big lead like that it gives us the opportunity to work on some different things,” she said. “We can work on executing some offenses; we had other people able to get in and we worked on different combinations, which is what you have to do when you get into situations like that.”

Salley sees floor time

Freshman guard Breanna Salley saw her first playing time of the year after her month-long stint on the bench with a stress fracture in her foot.

Salley was able to practice during the week and did some extra work with the trainer, but at the beginning of the week Borton said her status for the game was still undecided. However, with 6:51 left to go and the Gophers up by 41, Salley entered the game.

Her three field goal attempts were all off the mark, but Borton said she was glad to get her into the game.

“I was hoping to, if just for a couple minutes, get her in to get the rust out and the nerves out,” she said. “She was pretty nervous and winded, but it was nice for her to get onto the floor.”