Gophers look to start playing 40 full minutes as Detroit comes to town

by David McCoy

As Minnesota’s women’s basketball team prepares for its game tonight against Detroit at Williams Arena, its focus is not on its opponents.

In fact, as most signs point to a sure Gophers win, the team’s primary objective is playing its first complete game of the season.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

While the Gophers (4-1) are content with the wins, they are not happy with the way their wins have been coming, as they have had trouble holding onto leads late in games.

“I don’t think you can ever be satisfied – not even if you played 38 great minutes,” point guard Shannon Schonrock said. “Great teams don’t settle.”

Most recently, Minnesota opened up a 50-26 lead with just more than 15 minutes left but beat Creighton just 79-71.

This was also true for Minnesota’s games against Virginia Tech and UNLV. Minnesota took leads of 30-6 and 25-10 midway through the first half before beating Virginia Tech just 70-56 and UNLV 77-69, respectively.

Minnesota even led 20-10 midway through the first half in an overtime loss to Washington.

In fact, Minnesota’s game against Arkansas State on Nov. 19 was the only game in which it opened up its lead late in the game.

But this trend might be especially difficult to reverse against a team like Detroit (1-2), which doesn’t pose a huge threat to upset Minnesota.

If the Gophers build a large lead again, conditions are ripe for another relapse; whereas if they were playing a tougher opponent, it might be easier to play hard for the whole game.

But coach Pam Borton said her players are plenty ready to finish Detroit if they open a lead and don’t need any extra motivation from her.

“I don’t really have to say anything,” Borton said. “We want to be better. We need to worry about ourselves more than others and play for more than just 25 minutes.”

Though Minnesota could derive extra motivation from the knowledge that its 21-game home nonconference winning streak is on the line, senior center Janel McCarville said she honestly couldn’t care less about adding to a streak.

She said she just wants to finish a game.

“We’ve never looked at a streak like that,” McCarville said. “It’s not important. What is important is stepping on the floor and actually playing a 40-minute game of basketball.”

Bolden day-to-day

Minnesota starting forward Shannon Bolden, the team’s defensive specialist, is day-to-day after spraining her right ankle in practice last week, Borton said.

Bolden was held out of high-intensity drills at practice Tuesday and did mostly rehabilitation work, such as working out on an exercise bike.

She did, however, take part in some low-intensity drills.

Bolden, who missed Sunday’s game at Creghton, is questionable for tonight’s game.