Fox, Knight combine for 42 in win

Mark Heise

Northwestern continued to be the rock every team gets to kick in women’s basketball Sunday, as Minnesota (17-8 overall, 8-5 Big Ten) booted around the Wildcats at Williams Arena in a 68-48 win.

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Penn state
what: Women’s basketball
when: 7 p.m., Thursday
where: University Park, Pa.

Northwestern (4-20, 0-12) didn’t have a single player score more than 11 points and committed 18 turnovers, handing the Gophers 24 points.

“We did what we needed to do to win tonight,” coach Pam Borton said.

Senior forward Leslie Knight started off the game hot, hitting her first four shots from the field to give the Gophers a 13-7 lead before heading to the bench with 14 minutes left.

Minnesota combined that with a very aggressive defense that caused two shot clock violations in that period, but Northwestern exploited the one flaw in the Gophers’ first-half defensive scheme, grabbing seven offensive rebounds.

With the offensive boards going to the Wildcats and Minnesota’s lack of offensive power, Northwestern was able to get back in the game, taking the lead at 17-22 as junior guard Emily Fox was the only player scoring for the Gophers, putting up 14 points in the half.

Minnesota switched up the lineup and brought in sophomore forward Korinne Campbell.

The Gophers used her size advantage to collect three easy layups. Knight put in her two cents, as well. Minnesota was able to open the lead up to 34-24 at half, thanks largely to Knight’s 6-6 effort from the floor.

The Gophers jumped out to a 43-29 lead five minutes into the second half and cruised for the remainder of the game.

Minnesota used its comfortable lead to spend the second half trying out a few different half-court traps and some zone defenses.

“We tried to change up the defense and try to get into passing lanes so we can run,” Fox said. “That’s what we love to do.”

Sophomore guard Brittany McCoy applied steady pressure defensively and was able to collect four steals, which led to her team-leading nine assists.

Offensively, Campbell continued to play well, taking advantage of offensive rebounds to add seven points to her total.

Campbell said she was surprised by the lack of height on Northwestern’s team, which allowed her to get some points early in the game.

“I didn’t know they were that tall until I got close to them, and they were about here,” Campbell said, holding her hand up at shoulder-height.

Borton called Campbell the difference-maker of the game, saying the team needs more than just Knight and Fox to put up quality numbers.

“Leslie and Emily are going to do what they do every night, but it’s the other players that will determine our success,” Borton said. “Korinne was the player who stepped up tonight.”

Minnesota shot 50.9 percent from the floor, with Fox, Campbell, McCoy and Knight shooting a combined 59 percent and accounting for 60 of the team’s 68 points. The rest of the team shot just 23 percent in 13 shots.

But the biggest thing the Gophers need to improve on from the game is taking care of the ball, Borton said.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” she said. “I felt like 15 turnovers was a lot for us tonight with a team that didn’t press. We have to play a little better on Thursday.”