Gophers down UNLV in Seattle

Jamie Broback scored 28 points to lead the Gophers to a season-opening 77-69 win.

David McCoy

Make it 31.

With the help of sophomore Jamie Broback’s career-high 28 points, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team extended its nonconference winning streak to 31 games Sunday with its 77-69 win over UNLV in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Classic in Seattle.

“The whole team knew she could do it,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said. “She needs to be one of our primary scorers with Janel (McCarville) out. She’s just tapping her potential.”

Broback scored 10 of Minnesota’s first 12 points and topped her previous game high of 15 points less than 10 minutes into the game. She also had a game-high seven rebounds.

The 14th-ranked Gophers (1-0) have now won their season opener the last five years in a row, and they are 11-0 in November under Borton.

Both teams showed their respective opening-game jitters, committing 42 combined turnovers.

But Minnesota’s ability to turn those turnovers into points proved to be the difference in the game.

While UNLV (0-1) scored only 10 points off 20 Gophers turnovers, Minnesota turned 22 Rebels turnovers into 26 points, making Broback happy with the way her team converted.

“Our offense is going to come from our defense,” Broback said. “It all just started with defensive pressure.”

After Minnesota opened up a 25-10 lead nine minutes into the game, UNLV stormed back.

The Rebels went on a 14-5 run to cut the Gophers’ lead at the half to 39-33.

And though the Rebels cut it to 49-48 midway through the second half, the Gophers never lost their lead.

Junior Sheena Moore scored nearly half of UNLV’s points, dropping 34.

Sophomore Kelly Roysland matched her career high by adding 16 points off the bench for Minnesota.

Junior Shannon Schonrock was the Gophers’ third-highest scorer with 11, all in the second half.

Minnesota continued its pattern of running six players more than 20 minutes, with Roysland even playing a minute more than starter Liz Podominick.

“That’s going to be one of our strengths this year – the fact that we can go deep,” Borton said. “When everybody starting or subbing can score, then we get better on the floor.”

Minnesota will play its second game of the WBCA Classic tonight at 9 p.m. CDT against Washington.

Tonight’s game should be Minnesota’s last without All-American McCarville, who is expected to return from a broken bone in her left hand for Friday’s home opener against Arkansas State.

Broback said that while today’s chance at 32 straight nonconference wins is exciting, they have bigger things to think about than a streak.

“We need to make sure we aren’t getting our heads too big without (McCarville),” Broback said. “We need to take each game as an opportunity to get better.”