Substitute forwards key in win over Spartans

Emily Wickstrom

If Michigan State’s women’s basketball team came into Sunday’s game against Minnesota focusing on stopping Jamie Broback, it was in for a surprise.

It should have worried more about Minnesota’s bench.

Role players took over as the 10th-ranked Gophers defeated the No. 9 Spartans 71-58 on Sunday in Williams Arena in front of an announced season-high crowd of 10,876.

It was the first time in coach Pam Borton’s four seasons at Minnesota that she has defeated Michigan State.

“From the very beginning we believed we could beat Michigan State on our home court,” Borton said.

Starting forwards Broback and Liz Podominick, the Gophers’ top two scorers, struggled early and were replaced by sophomores Lauren Lacey and Natasha Williams.

The two took advantage of their opportunity, with Lacey scoring on consecutive possessions soon after entering the game.

Lacey also gave Minnesota its first lead, 20-19, on a jumper from the free-throw line with just more than six minutes to go in the first half.

The lead stretched to eight points at halftime, 33-25, as Williams scored eight points in the last four minutes to spark the Gophers’ 13-6 run.

“I felt like we had a different intensity tonight,” senior guard Katie Alsdurf said. “We came out ready to go from the start… That was the first time we played a 40-minute game and actually put a team away.”

Borton stuck with Lacey and Williams instead of Broback and Podominick in the second half, and the Spartans never got closer than seven points.

The lead stretched to 15 points when freshman Emily Fox hit a three-pointer with just less than seven minutes to play.

A major reason for Minnesota’s dominance was the abundance of second chances it got.

The Gophers had 18 offensive rebounds to the Spartans 10.

“To be able to get out there and play as many minutes as I did it felt good,” Lacey said. “I just knew if or when my number was called I needed to be ready.”

Minnesota’s starting five combined for just 16 points.

Lacey, who played a total of five minutes in the Gophers’ past three games, finished with a career-high 16 points, while Williams had 13.

Fox also had 13 points while playing an extensive amount of minutes.

“We’ve got some of our best offensive scorers and threats on the bench,” Borton said. “That was our best team on the court tonight and I was very proud of them for stepping up and seizing the moment.”

April Calhoun was held scoreless, but filled the box score with a career-high 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Seniors Lindsay Bowen and Liz Shimek led Michigan State with 20 and 16 points, respectively.