Gophers win season-opener against Northern Iowa

women’s basketball

by Paul Cordes

After sophomore guard Emily Fox’s opening basket, the Minnesota women’s basketball team never trailed against Northern Iowa as it cruised to an opening day win.

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WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Williams Arena

Fox’s points/assists double-double, combined with double-figure scoring from four players gave the Gophers the 75-63 victory at Williams Arena.

Minnesota had a balanced attack all night, but Fox’s 10 assists and 13 points earned her the Gophers’ first double-double with points and assists since 2004, when Lindsey Whalen did it against Boston College in the NCAA Tournament.

Fox always seemed to be able to find an open player and her nonstop pressure caught Northern Iowa off guard a couple of times as she was able to break away.

Fox said she does her best to keep up her intensity but also gave credit to her teammates’ potential to do the same.

“I always try to keep my energy up,” she said. “I try to go out there and provide a spark for the team but I believe anybody on this team can do it.”

That couldn’t have been truer on Friday with four players in double digits. Freshman forward Katie Ohm led the way with 15 points, Fox added her 13, freshman guard Brittany McCoy put up 11 and senior guard Kelly Roysland scored 10.

Coach Pam Borton said she was very pleased with the balanced offensive performance from her team.

“Every single person on this team made a big shot,” she said. “And that’s the way this team has to win this year is to get contribution from every person.

The Gophers were dominant for most of the first half. Freshman center Zoe Harper scored six of Minnesota’s first 10 points, as they took an early 11-1 lead.

That lead increased to as many as 15 points at two different junctures, and despite a late first-half run by Northern Iowa, the Gophers took an eight-point lead into the locker room.

The Panthers seemed to have a little extra spark in them at the beginning of the second half. The 15-point lead became just a three-point lead six minutes into the half and it looked as though Minnesota may have a challenge on its hands.

“One thing that I was very pleased with tonight was when we were down 15 and cut it to three,” Northern Iowa coach Tony DiCecco said. “Give our kids a lot of credit for being able to do that against a young and very talented team like Minnesota.”

The three-point differential didn’t last long though. The Gophers quickly increased their lead to eight before Ohm’s three- pointer, which Borton called the final dagger in Northern Iowa.

Minnesota would go up by as much as 18 with 47 seconds left. Despite three three-pointers by the Panthers in the last 40 seconds, the Gophers were able to hang on and give Borton her fifth-straight, opening day win in her tenure at Minnesota

Borton said she was proud of the way her team played when the Panthers pulled themselves within striking distance.

“There were a few times during the game that we could have buckled,” Borton said. “But when you have three guards (Fox, McCoy and Roysland) on the floor who have the desire and the refuse-to-lose attitude, you’re going to be in good shape.”