Elite feat: Minn. tops BC

Dan Miller

NORFOLK, Va. – With 7:38 left in Sunday’s Mideast Regional semifinal game of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Boston College 6-foot-4-inch player Kathrin Ress had the ball one-on-one against Minnesota center Janel McCarville right underneath the basket.

Instead of shooting, Ress decided to pass up the close shot to a teammate on the perimeter.

No one in Ted Constant Convocation Center blamed her.

McCarville recorded a career-high eight blocks Sunday afternoon, to go along with 24 points and 15 rebounds in a dominant performance that helped the Gophers to a 76-63 victory over the Eagles and resulted in Minnesota’s first ever trip to the Elite Eight.

The Gophers will play top-seeded Duke at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Mideast championship game.

“I felt pretty dominant inside,” McCarville said. “Shots were really rolling my way, I was able to get them to fall early and I was able to get to the basket.”

The Gophers got to the basket easily and often in the opening minutes of the second half as they exploded to a 17-5 run. Lindsay Whalen, who finished with 15 points and 10 assists, weaved through the Eagles defense and threw no-look passes to wide open teammates in the stretch. When she sat down on the bench with 13:15 left in the game, Minnesota had a commanding 49-33 lead.

“You look at the final score of the game and that was about the difference,” Whalen said. “We talk about the first four minutes of the second half being very crucial and (Sunday) we were able to come out and take control of the game.”

Whalen and the Gophers dismantled the Eagles defense in the second half shooting 60.9 percent from the field in the last 20 minutes of the game.

The Eagles’ leading scorer Amber Jacobs finished with only one field goal in the game and scored seven points. Sophomore defensive specialist Shannon Bolden guarded Jacobs for most of the game and also added 13 points for the Gophers.

McCarville was a defensive specialist in the first half as well, recording five of her blocks and settling into the paint in the first half after a slow start.

She brought the more than 500 Minnesota fans into a frenzy with 2:08 left in the half while sending Ress’ shot into the first row of the stands behind the Eagles’ basket.

But it was Boston College who threw the first blow. The Eagles jumped out to an early 10-2 lead on a Clare Droesch drive with 15:54 left in the period.

Whalen responded for Minnesota, and the Gophers went on a 10-2 run of their own to tie the game 12-12 at the 12:17 mark.

Whalen grabbed two offensive rebounds on a single possession before finding McCarville cutting to the basket to score with 14:15 to play in the half. Whalen drove and found McCarville on the next possession to cut the score to 12-9.

Minnesota received an early surprise as freshmen Jamie Broback and Kelly Roysland hit back-to-back three pointers to put the Gophers on top 18-16 with 9:38 left in the half.

McCarville then scored four of Minnesota’s final five field goals as the team went into the locker room leading 30-28.

“We feel fortunate to be playing in the Elite Eight on Tuesday,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “This is a great moment for our program and our players.”

Duke rolls on

Alana Beard and Monique Currie combined for 35 points as Duke rolled past Louisiana Tech to secure their spot against Minnesota in Tuesday’s Mideast championship game.

Louisiana Tech’s Trina Frierson led all scorers with 22 points on 10 of 19 shooting from the field.