Minnesota rolls to win over Michigan

Emily Wickstrom

If there was any concern about a letdown game for Minnesota’s women’s basketball team after its big victory over Michigan State, it quickly dissolved.

The Gophers got off to a quick start and easily defeated Michigan 85-57 on Thursday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Minnesota (12-4, 5-1 Big Ten) has won each of its three Big Ten games away from home after losing its first three road games to nonconference opponents.

“We’re really confident (on the road),” senior guard Shannon Bolden. “It took us a while to start playing well on the road… Sometimes your shots don’t fall as much away from home, and we figured out that our hard work and our defense was what’s going to win games for us.”

The Gophers were solid at both ends of the floor, posting their highest scoring total of the season while collecting 14 steals on defense and scoring 24 points off Michigan turnovers.

“I felt great about our defense,” coach Pam Borton said. “Our defense created our offense today in a lot of different situations.

But perhaps most important was that Minnesota’s starters redeemed themselves after combining for just 16 points on Sunday and being outshined by the bench players.

“They came out with great energy at the very beginning of the game,” Borton said. “We’ve had a tendency to start kind of slow. Our starters did a great job today.”

The bench wasn’t completely overshadowed however, contributing 38 points as 12 different players got in the box score.

Bolden and Jamie Broback were the high scorers with 12 points apiece, but six other players had at least seven points.

“We have so many different people that can perform for us on the floor,” Bolden said. “Anybody on our team can score in double digits on any given night. Our bench plays just as well as our starters.”

Michigan stayed in the game in the first six minutes, leading 10-8.

But Minnesota quickly responded with a 19-4 run behind Natasha Williams’ six points in the paint to take a 27-14 lead, and led 42-29 at the half.

The lead stretched even longer in the second half, as Borton continually switched up the lineup. No Gophers player got more than 23 minutes.

In the game’s closing minutes, Kelly Roysland scored on a reverse layup and was fouled, stretching the lead to a 30-point advantage, 81-51.

Borton subsequently emptied her bench.

“It was great to get a lot of people in the game,” Borton said. “Anytime you win a Big Ten road game, it’s a huge win.”

Katie Dierdorf and Janelle Cooper led the Wolverines with 12 points apiece as their inexperienced team dropped a sixth-straight conference game.