Ellis-Milan leads Gophers past Borton’s old team

Senior guard Kelly Roysland and sophomore guard Emily Fox had 16 points combined.

by Paul Cordes

A career night from freshman center Ashley Ellis-Milan, a dominant rebound performance and a good night on the free-throw line was the winning combination for the Minnesota women’s basketball team.

The Gophers handed Vermont a 74-59 loss at Williams Arena on Thursday night in front of 4,329 people.

Ellis-Milan had two career highs against the Catamounts with 20 points and 13 rebounds, both were team best on the night as well.

“I’m feeling really good inside right now,” she said. “I go out there and my motto is ‘bring it’ and I feel like that’s what I need to do to be successful. I just went out there tonight and did what I know how to do.”

Vermont sophomore forward Andrea Cihal had the task of defending Ellis-Milan and found herself severely mismatched. She said Ellis-Milan snatched away chances for the Catamounts to gain any significant momentum.

“She’s a really good player and she’s really aggressive,” Cihal said. “On the boards is where I think we lost it.”

And the statistics would certainly agree with her. Minnesota out-rebounded Vermont 54-30 and the Gophers’ 20 points off 23 offensive rebounds made it a long night for the Catamounts.

“They’re very strong and athletic, so it doesn’t surprise me how they knew how to rebound,” Vermont coach Sharon Dawley said.

“I know that they had been dissatisfied with their offensive rebounds in the last couple of games so my fear was that Pam had probably mentioned that to her kids in practice.”

Dawley’s scouting of Minnesota didn’t stop at rebounding. The Catamounts knew ahead of time that senior guard Kelly Roysland and sophomore guard Emily Fox had been wreaking havoc for teams all year, and Vermont was ready for them.

The Catamounts (4-2 overall, 0-0 America East) did a good job keeping the two in the background of the game, allowing just 16 points and two assists between the two guards.

But that created an opportunity for other players to step up and take on some tough roles. Ellis-Milan, freshman guard Brittany McCoy and freshman forward Korinne Campbell stepped up when they were needed and each scored in double figures on the night.

“They had two people on Emily and two people on Kelly all night,” coach Pam Borton said. “I think it opens things up for other people and I think a lot of people took advantage of it tonight.”

McCoy and Campbell both played a big part in putting the game away in the second half, especially from the free-throw line.

Minnesota (6-2, 0-0 Big Ten) has struggled this year on the charity stripe, but the team finished 19-of-25 from the line with Campbell hitting 4-of-5 and McCoy 7-of-7.

“Unlike other games that we’ve played so far this year, I thought we really stepped up and hit free throws at the end of the game,” Borton said. “That was the difference and it let us put the game away.”

Gophers host Chicago State

Minnesota will play its final nonconference home game before opening Big Ten play against Iowa after Christmas.

The Gophers will go up against Division I Independent Chicago State (3-4) on Saturday at Williams Arena with tip-off set for 6:00m p.m.

This is just the second time the two teams have met. Minnesota won 95-47 the first time.