While the Dominican Republic National Team was shooting layups before its contest with Minnesota on Thursday night, the Gophers were doing defensive shuffling drills.
It was a sign of things to come.
Using new coach Pam Borton’s pressure defense philosophy and combining it with last year’s offensive prowess, Minnesota defeated the Dominicans 96-37 before 2,556 at Williams Arena in the team’s first exhibition game.
“I did not expect this at all,” Borton said. “I would have never thought this team would score 96 points tonight. I think everyone was a little more excited for this game than I was, though.”
The Gophers held the Dominicans to 24.1 percent shooting in the game and only 13 points on three field goals in the second half.
Minnesota also forced 24 turnovers with 13 of them coming on steals.
Junior guard and 2002 Big Ten Player of the Year Lindsay Whalen found herself scoring off several turnovers. She led the way, shooting predominantly layups, with 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting and nine assists in 24 minutes of action.
Seniors Corrin Von Wald and Kim Prince each contributed 15 points to the cause, with Prince dominating the smaller competition on the post in the second half.
Borton used her entire arsenal as the Gophers stretched the lead in the second half. Everyone but injured freshman Shannon Schonrock got at least five minutes worth of action.
Borton’s prized freshman recruit, Shannon Bolden, came out tentative but settled down to hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions in the second half.
“In the first half she was just nervous,” Borton said. “Everyone’s nervous – except Christina (Collison), of course – in their first game. I was really pleased with how (Bolden) did on defense.”
Borton was referring to possibly the game’s most interesting moment. After entering the game with about seven minutes remaining, Collison took her first touch straight to the basket. Getting the basket and a foul sent Collison into an uproar.
“I just thought it was an awesome experience to play in my first game,” Collison said. “I could have kept (celebrating) for five minutes but I had to go shoot the free throw.”
Tanisha Gilbert returned to action after missing the second semester of 2001 for academic reasons and all of last year recovering from ACL surgery. She scored seven points and had four assists in 12 minutes of play.
“I’m excited,” Gilbert said. “I haven’t played in two years, really, and nerves were going crazy. I feel like a freshman.”
The Gophers finished the game having shot 54.8 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three-point range. The Dominicans were out-rebounded by a 47-30 margin and posted only four assists to Minnesota’s 28.
“I feel pretty pleased after three weeks of practice,” Borton said. “We had good intensity, and this is the players’ first time playing man-to-man defense for 40 minutes.
“We still have a long way to go. But after two and a half weeks, we can feel good about where we’re at as far as the offensive and defensive systems go.”