Gophers win two of three over weekend

by Paul Cordes

If Thanksgiving is considered a time for relaxation and leisure, the Minnesota women’s basketball team missed the memo as it played three games in four days over the long holiday weekend.

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WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Williams Arena
RADIO: 830 AM, 88.5, and 95.5

The Gophers started with a 75-55 romp over Creighton on Wednesday and then traveled to Flagstaff, Ariz. for the Northern Arizona Thanksgiving Tournament where they suffered a 75-66 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay and followed it up with a 70-67 win over Kent State.

After a close game gone sour in the tournament opener against Wisconsin-Green Bay, the Gophers came out to redeem themselves Saturday night in a consolation game.

A career night for senior guard Kelly Roysland and a strong performance by sophomore guard Emily Fox earned Minnesota (5-2 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) a win in the consolation game.

“After our loss to Green Bay we wanted to come out and prove ourselves,” Fox said. “We wanted to walk away feeling good about the way we played.”

The Gophers led by as many as 11, but weren’t able to put away the Golden Flashes.

With 3:27 left to go, Kent State (1-3, 0-0 MAC) took a small and short-lived lead before Fox regained the lead for Minnesota on the ensuing possession.

An already close game got even tighter in the last part of the second half.

With 25 seconds to go, Roysland was clutch on the free-throw line, hitting both shots to put Minnesota up four. A quick Kent State three-pointer gave the Golden Flashes a ray of hope, however. But Roysland went to the line and sealed the deal with 3.4 seconds left as she sank her final two free throws giving the Gophers the 70-67 victory.

Gophers let lead slip

Even with a late lead, Minnesota was unable to nail down a win against Wisconsin Green-Bay (3-2, 0-0 Horizon League) in the weekend-opening game.

Wisconsin-Green Bay’s six first-half three-pointers gave them a 10-point lead at the half. That lead increased to 12 before Minnesota started to fight its way back.

A nine-minute stretch of turnover-free basketball for the Gophers brought them roaring back and Minnesota was able to take the lead 63-62 with 5:00 to go in the half after freshman center Ashley Ellis-Milan hit one of two from the free-throw line and junior forward Leslie Knight scored two on a put back.

But missed free throws sunk any chance of a Gophers comeback. Minnesota finished 12-of-21 from the line including some crucial freebies in the last five minutes of the game.

“When you miss a couple of free throws at the beginning of a game, it might not seem like a big deal,” Fox said. “But at the end of the game, when you hit only 12-of-21, it really sticks out as one of our weaknesses.

Campbell leads in win

Minnesota jumped out to an early first-half lead and was up 25-12 with 6:26 left to go, but Creighton was able to pick away at that lead and pull within one by the end of the first half.

Coach Pam Borton talked about how her team managed to let a 13-point lead slip away in the first half.

“We were a runaway train in the first half with our offense,” she said. “We were not making a lot of good decisions.”

The Gophers came into their own in the second half, both offensively and defensively.

Freshman Korinne Campbell was one of three Gophers to record a double-double on the night. Her game-high 13 rebounds and her career-high 11 points and three steals helped to spark a 15-0 run, giving Minnesota a 19-point lead with 11:16 left to go.

Campbell said she thought her energy was well-timed.

“I feel like my energy came at just the right moment,” she said. “The rest of the team fed off my energy and everybody got pretty riled up.”

The Bluejays never got closer than 10, and Minnesota’s 30 offensive rebounds certainly played a large part in that. Sophomore guard Emily Fox said rebounding and defense are two things coaches are really stressing to the players.

“Defense and rebounding is how we’re going to win games,” she said. “When we out-rebound a team, that’s when you’re going to see us be successful.”

Borton gets No. 100

Coach Pam Borton is quickly climbing up the ranks among coaches of the Minnesota women’s basketball team.

With the Gophers’ win on Saturday against Kent State came Borton’s 100th win on the Minnesota sideline.

“I’m excited to get that 100th victory, but all the credit goes to all the players we’ve had at Minnesota over the past five seasons,” Borton said after the game Saturday night.

That puts her second in wins on the all-time list of past coaches. Ellen Mosher-Hanson is at the top of the list with 172, but Borton’s .741 winning percentage is the highest in school history.

Sophomore guard Emily Fox talked about the significance of Borton’s feat.

“It just shows how far she has taken this program,” she said. “She has built up this into a top program, and it’s awesome for her to be able to get 100 wins.”