Indiana women’s basketball coach Kathi Bennett brought a stool to the elevated floor of Williams Arena to take a seat late in Minnesota’s 78-46 rout of the Hoosiers on Thursday night.
The 14th-ranked Gophers (16-3, 5-3 Big Ten) made the youngest team in the Big Ten look like the youngest team in the Big Ten, holding the Hoosiers to 28.3 percent shooting from the field.
“We pretty much got shredded,” Bennett said. “Our defensive effort was poor, and we didn’t have any containment.”
Thursday’s victory was a must win for the Gophers, who had been riding a three-game losing streak after starting the season 15-0.
Five Gophers scored in double digits, and the team shot 50 percent from the field.
“We needed that win,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “It was a big win for us to get back on track and feel confident about ourselves as a team.”
Senior co-captain Kadidja Anderson led all scorers with 17 points along with four assists.
The Gophers went on a 22-4 run in the opening 8:28 of the second half that buried the young Hoosiers.
The Gophers shot 55.6 percent from the field in the second half and finished with a 47-29 rebounding advantage.
The Gophers switched their defenses in the second half, frustrating the Hoosiers’ leading scorer, Jenny DeMuth, who was held to three points – almost 17 points below her average.
“Anyone who watches tape on us knows we struggle (with zone defense),” Bennett said.
Gophers’ senior Lindsay Whalen took her bow in a brief ceremony before tip-off for her school scoring record, but freshman Kelly Roysland stole the show in the first half.
Roysland gave the Gophers an energy boost as they jumped out to a 34-21 halftime lead and didn’t look back.
Roysland was all over the court, scoring nine of her 12 points in the first half. The 5-foot-9-inch guard also grabbed and eight rebounds in the game.
“I definitely feel more confident with the offense and playing with these girls,” Roysland said.
The Gophers re-established their inside scoring going to junior center Janel McCarville and Andersson who scored eight and seven points respectively in the first half.
Minnesota closed the half with a 21-7 run capped by a Roysland three-point play – banking in a running jump shot at the free-throw line.
The Gophers had five players in double digits for the first time all season.
“This shows that we don’t need one player to score 20 or 30 points in a game for this team to be successful,” Whalen said.
The Gophers travel Sunday to take on Wisconsin (8-10, 2-6) at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
“This was something we really needed,” Andersson said. “We have a lot to accomplish this season, and this was a nice step toward that.”