Broback returns in Paradise Jam wins

Emily Wickstrom

After Minnesota’s women’s basketball team’s first two games, the Gophers proved they can win without Jamie Broback.

But with Broback back to her dominant ways this weekend, the Gophers showed how much better they can be with her in the lineup.

Minnesota (4-0) beat Nevada 83-75 on Friday and Virginia 69-64 on Saturday en route to winning the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Broback ” who missed the Subway Classic tournament Nov. 19 and 20 because of a leave of absence ” came off the bench both games but carried much of the scoring load, with 31 points in the tournament. She was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

On Saturday, the Gophers found themselves behind the entire first half.

After Virginia took its biggest lead, 17-9, with 11:46 left in the first half, the Gophers finally responded.

Minnesota went on a 7-0 run, capped by a Shannon Schonrock three-pointer, to pull within one point.

In the second half, senior guard Shannon Bolden gave the Gophers their first lead of the game with a three-pointer with 17:33 to go.

And after scoring zero points in the first half, junior forward Liz Podominick became a force, finishing the contest with 18 points and eight rebounds.

The teams traded leads throughout the rest of the game, until freshman Emily Fox scored a three-point basket with 1:47 to go to give Minnesota a six-point advantage and the lead for good.

Sharnee Zoll led the Cavaliers with 16 points.

“I’m excited about the poise we displayed down the stretch,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said. “Virginia played very hard and this is a great win for us.”

Borton was less pleased with her team after Friday’s game, as Minnesota came out slow against a lesser Nevada team.

The Gophers held the lead after the first few minutes, but could not put the Wolf Pack away, leading by a score of 42-34 at halftime.

“I think we underestimated the team a little bit,” Podominick said. “Nevada played very well and did some things we didn’t expect. It took us a while to respond.”

Minnesota answered in the second half by building a double-digit lead, but Nevada went on a late 7-0 run to pull within five points with 1:22 left in the game.

The Gophers sealed the game with a basket from April Calhoun and free throws from Kelly Roysland and Broback down the stretch.

Sophomore Natasha Williams scored a game-high 20 points and Broback had 17. Guards Roysland and Shannon Bolden balanced out the scoring with 12 and 11 points, respectively, and Calhoun had seven assists.

“I wasn’t pleased with our overall effort,” Borton said.

Podominick joined Broback on the all-tournament team because of her performance in the championship game.