Gophers avenge loss to Penn State

A crowd of 14,363 saw Minnesota hand Big Ten leading Penn State its first league loss.

Dan Miller

No one had a decibel meter on hand Sunday night at Williams Arena, but ears were ringing as the largest crowd in school history exited the Barn after Minnesota’s women’s basketball team’s 74-56 victory over fifth-ranked Penn State.

A record crowd of 14,363 saw the 13th-ranked Gophers (18-3, 7-3 Big Ten) give the Big Ten leading Lions (18-4, 10-1) their first conference loss as Minnesota senior Lindsay Whalen and junior Janel McCarville scored 23 and 22 points respectively.

The game was eerily similar to the Gophers’ 75-56 loss to the Lions on Jan. 22, but this time the Gophers made the large second half run.

“We re-emphasized to have a strong start in the second half during halftime,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said.

Penn State’s Reicina Russell gave the Lions their first lead of the game on a turn-around jump shot with 10 minutes left in the game, but Whalen and McCarville led the Gophers on a 17-5 run in the next 5:45.

“With around nine minutes left I felt my team started to go in the wrong direction,” Penn State coach Rene Portland said.

Minnesota shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and outscored the Lions 28-10 in the paint.

McCarville, who fouled out against the Lions on Jan. 22, finished with only one foul.

“Janel is way too important to not have in the game,” Borton said.

The Gophers held Penn State to 37 percent shooting in the game and held Lions star Kelly Mazzante to only three points in the final 10:08 of the game.

Minnesota had no answer for Tanisha Wright who scored 12 points on five of nine shooting from the field in the first half.

The Gophers jumped out to an 11-2 lead, but the Lions responded with a 10-0 run capped by a Jess Strom free-throw with 11:48 to go in the first half.

The Gophers held Penn State to 38 percent shooting from the field and out rebounded the Lions 33-30.

“Defense and rebounding win championships and we did both those very well,” Borton said.

McCarville and Kadidja Anderson had eight and seven points, respectively, in the first half.

McCarville had six rebounds in the first half, two of which were offensive and resulted in four of her eight points.

Sophomore Shannon Bolden, who guarded Mazzante most of the game, hit a three-pointer with 2:28 left in the half pushing the Gophers lead to 28-22.

But the Lions went on a 7-1 run in final two minutes of the half with Mazzante burying a three-pointer to tie the game at 29.

“We made a big statement tonight,” McCarville said. “We told people we can play with the best teams in the country.”