Gophers remain unblemished after 1st genuine test of season

by Aaron Blake

For anyone who doubted Minnesota’s women’s basketball team deserved the top-10 ranking it claimed in 2002 after finishing a weak non-conference schedule, new coach Pam Borton’s squad made yet another statement in its unblemished season on the second day of 2003.

After finishing a lackluster non-conference schedule Borton inherited in her rookie campaign with a perfect 11-0 record, the tenth-ranked Gophers (12-0, 1-0 Big Ten) disposed of Michigan (9-3, 0-1) 98-70 in their first real test of the season Thursday night at Williams Arena in front of a crowd of 6,317.

Michigan had been ranked 25th in The Associated Press poll before this week, but found itself no match for a potent Minnesota offense that shot 60.7 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range for the game.

“I think I saw four tapes of Minnesota,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “In those four tapes, I didn’t quite see the things I saw tonight. That team ran on all its cylinders for 40 minutes, and we just got a good old fashioned butt-whipping.”

It was the first time the Gophers have faced Big Ten-caliber competition this season, and the team responded early and often on both ends of the floor.

“I probably wasn’t as concerned as everyone else (about the non-conference schedule),” Borton said. “This just ups our confidence to another level. We beat a (former) top-25 team by nearly 30 points. We came in here feeling we had something to prove.”

Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Lindsay Whalen began this season’s campaign right where she left off, scoring 30 points in 30 minutes on 10-for-13 shooting and dishing out six assists.

Senior captain Corrin Von Wald continued her mastery of the Williams Arena baskets, shooting 6 for 6 in the first half on her way to 18 points. She is now 30 for 35 from the field through four games within the confines of Williams.

The Gophers built a 45-30 lead at halftime with Whalen and Von Wald combining for 29 points. Minnesota had a 33-24 advantage before going on a 10-0 run late in the half that would put the lead in double-digits for good.

The Gophers increased the margin early in the second half, going on a 14-2 run that put them ahead 70-39 with 12:28 remaining.

Highlighting the second half was a behind-the-back pass by Whalen to sophomore Janel McCarville for a 3-point play that sent the crowd into a frenzy and put the lead back to 31 points at 85-54.

McCarville finished with 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Stephanie Gandy led Michigan with 23 points.

Minnesota gets an even bigger test traveling to No. 15 Penn State on Sunday.