Women’s hoops jumps all over Lions in 73-57 romp

Aaron Blake

Minnesota women’s basketball senior Corrin Von Wald’s shoulder couldn’t knock out the Big Ten’s leading scorer on Sunday afternoon. But her defense sure did.

Though Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante suffered what her coach believed was a broken nose midway through the first half – she played the rest of the way – Von Wald’s defense rarely gave her room to shoot. Despite scoring 11 points, Mazzante had just two in the first 27 minutes and scored five in garbage time.

The rest of the 16th-ranked Gophers (21-4, 10-4 Big Ten) followed Von Wald’s lead, holding the nation’s fifth-highest scoring team to a season-low point total in a 73-57 victory.

“I was telling my players in practice that Mazzante was going to get her points, and we just had to shut everybody else down,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “But Corrin is feisty and she proved me wrong.”

With a Purdue loss at Ohio State on Sunday, the Gophers move into a tie with the Boilermakers for second place in the Big Ten. Minnesota can still tie the 12th-ranked Lions (22-7, 12-3) for the regular season title with a pair of wins and a final-game loss by Penn State.

The Gophers also avenged their first loss of the season – an 83-53 lashing in Happy Valley on Jan. 6 – and extended their five-game winning streak.

Minnesota is now a perfect 10-0 at Williams Arena this season. The crowd was announced at 12,438, which is the second-highest attendance in team history. The figure pales only to the Gophers’ win over Purdue on Jan. 19 (13,117).

Lindsay Whalen, who beat out Mazzante for conference player of the year last season, posted 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Sophomore Janel McCarville added 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting, despite playing only 25 minutes due to early foul trouble. McCarville made 14 straight shots spanning between Thursday’s game at Iowa and late in Sunday’s game.

Mazzante, the nation’s third-leading scorer and the Big Ten’s leader in three-pointers made, hit just one triple and tied her season low for field goals attempted with 11. She collided with Von Wald’s shoulder incidentally while defending in transition.

“She got frustrated and I just took advantage of that,” Von Wald said. “She was yelling at herself and at her teammates. You could just tell by the way she was playing (that she was frustrated).”

The Gophers led by as many as seven points in the first half and entered the second leading 31-26.

Penn State would be held at 26 points until just under five minutes into the second half while the Gophers went on a 13-0 run that put the lead at 44-26 and in double digits for good. Minnesota forced seven turnovers in a four-minute span during the run.

The Lions would get no closer than they were after Mazzante’s second basket of the game made it 47-36. A Shannon Schonrock three-pointer thwarted Penn State’s final rally and the Gophers would lead by as many as 23 points late in the game.

“The tables have turned,” Penn State coach Rene Portland said, referring to the teams’ first meeting of the season. “We didn’t match their intensity today and they came out and did a really good job defensively.”

Von Wald misses mark

Already in the record books for her 18-for-18 free-throw performance from her Wisconsin-Milwaukee days, Von Wald just missed another NCAA record. A miss from beyond the arc in the first half snapped her streak of 10 consecutive three-pointers made, with the record standing at 14.

Aaron Blake covers women’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]