Runaway: Women’s hoops trounces Ohio State 73-50

Aaron Blake

On Tuesday, two days after her team gutted out its first Big Ten road victory in five attempts, Minnesota women’s basketball coach Pam Borton said the Gophers’ days of winning by 15 or 20 points were over.

Versus Ohio State on Sunday at Williams Arena, they proved her wrong. Contrary to earlier in the season, however, this time they did it they way she taught them to – defensively.

The 17th-ranked Gophers suffocated the 22nd-ranked Buckeyes on defense and were supported by 20-point performances from Janel McCarville and Corrin Von Wald on the offensive end for the 73-50 victory.

“Our defense is peaking at the right time,” Borton said. “The last three games were all won with defense.

“We’ve put a lot of effort and energy into it in practice and it’s finally paying off. I give the players a lot of credit for buying into the system.”

With the win, Minnesota (19-4, 8-4 Big Ten) avenges a loss in Columbus on Feb. 6 and passes Ohio State (17-7, 8-5) to move into a tie for third place in the conference with Michigan State.

The Gophers are a perfect 9-0 at home this season.

McCarville added a career-high 17 rebounds to her 20 points in her first game back after missing Thursday’s game while recovering from a mild concussion suffered last Sunday.

“Against Ohio State two weeks ago, we went to (McCarville) and Kadidja (Andersson) in the first half and then went away from it in the second half,” All-American Lindsay Whalen said. “Today, we made the effort to do it the whole game.”

Von Wald was 5-for-5 from three-point range, with her final trifecta thwarting the Buckeyes’ brief rally midway through the second half.

Freshman Shannon Schonrock posted a career-high eight assists in her second-straight start at point guard.

The Big Ten’s fourth-leading scorer and top three-point shooter Caity Matter was held to just three points on 1-for-6 shooting.

Borton said shutting down Matter was a key to the game for her team. Without her, the Buckeyes were without a go-to player on the offensive end, and could never mount the required offense for a comeback.

They were led by forward D’wan Shackleford, whose 14 points came mostly off putbacks.

The Gophers used a 12-2 run early in the first half to turn a 13-12 deficit into a 24-15 advantage and headed into the locker room with a 35-26 lead.

After an 11-2 streak several minutes into the second half gave Minnesota a 19-point lead at 51-32, the Buckeyes responded a moment later with eight unanswered points. Spurred by forced turnovers, Ohio State narrowed the margin to 55-42 and forced Borton to call a timeout.

With the score 56-42 just instants later, Von Wald hit her fifth three-pointer of the game, extending the lead to 17 with 7:19 remaining and draining the offensively-directionless Buckeyes’ hopes of a comeback.

“They outplayed us and outworked us,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “They really wanted this game.”

Foster’s squad shot just 5-for-14 from the free-throw line and was out-rebounded 36-23.

The Buckeyes were semi-successful at shutting down Whalen, who was held to just 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting and made seven turnovers. They couldn’t, however, overcome McCarville’s presence or Von Wald’s mastery of the Williams Arena hoops.

“(McCarville) went wherever she wanted to go and did whatever she wanted to do,” Foster said. “We were supposed to shadow and watch Von Wald but she just ignored it and played very well.”

Aaron Blake covers women’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]