McCarville powers U to victory

The Gophers’ inside game was key in the 68-47 win.

Dan Miller

INDIANAPOLIS – With 3:57 to play in Minnesota’s women’s basketball team’s first-round game of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday night, Gophers center Janel McCarville grabbed a rebound under the basket that sent two Northwestern players flying in opposite directions.

It was a sign of the evening as 18th-ranked Minnesota put on a layup drill at Conseco Fieldhouse, beating Northwestern 68-47.

The victory was only the Gophers’ second in the Big Ten Tournament. They are 2-10 overall with their only other win coming against Wisconsin in 1997.

The Gophers (21-7, 10-7 Big Ten) needed a statement game, coming off two consecutive losses, and going 2-4 since losing their leading scorer, Lindsay Whalen, to an injury.

The Gophers lost their second straight game 57-47 at Michigan last Sunday. They dropped to sixth in the conference and missed a first round bye in the tournament.

After beating Northwestern in the opening round, the Gophers will face third-seeded Ohio State tonight in the quarterfinals. The Gophers expect to see a far different team than the Wildcats, who they pushed around Thursday night.

“It’s like night and day,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “I felt like we were playing five guards against Northwestern … (Ohio State) has two legitimate post players and were going to have to do a real good job playing post defense.”

McCarville will not be able to roam free inside against the Buckeyes like she did against the Wildcats on Thursday night.

“(Ohio State has) the best post tandem in the conference,” McCarville said. “We going to have to push them farther and farther away from the basket and keep them out of their comfort zone.”

The Gophers outscored Northwestern 26-10 in the paint Thursday, taking anything they wanted inside against the undersized Wildcats.

Minnesota also held Northwestern to 15.8 percent shooting in the first half and out-rebounded the Wildcats by almost double at 28-15.

The Wildcats stayed in the game in the first half by getting 11 points via free-throws. Northwestern took advantage of the Gophers’ nine first half team fouls hitting 78.6 percent from the line.

Tied at 15-15 with 6:14 to play in the first half, the Gophers went into the locker room with a 12-4 run, pushing their lead to 27-19. Minnesota exploited miss-matches inside with Kadidja Andersson and 6-foot-3-inch freshman Jamie Broback combining for 11 points in the last six minutes of the half.

The Wildcats didn’t make a field goal for the first 5:54 of the game. Forward A. J. Glasauer scored inside for the Wildcats’ first basket with 14:06 left in the first half.

Samantha McComb led the Wildcats with 16 points. She scored 11 in the first half going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.

The Gophers will quickly have to forget about Thursday and turn their attention to the Buckeyes.

“The game against Ohio State is going to be completely different from the one we played (Thursday),” Borton said.