IOWA CITY, Iowa ” A year after losing Janel McCarville, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team may be more dangerous in the post than ever before.
Forwards Jamie Broback (12 points), Lauren Lacey (10), Liz Podominick (13) and Natasha Williams (12) all scored in double figures as the Gophers defeated Iowa 80-68 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of an announced 7,005 fans on Sunday.
No. 16 Minnesota (13-4, 6-1 Big Ten) looked flat at times in the first half, with uncharacteristic turnovers and defensive lapses.
After gaining an 18-10 lead midway through the first half, the Gophers watched it slide away as the Hawkeyes went on a four-minute run to take a 24-21 lead behind eight points from freshman center Megan Skouby.
“We didn’t have a lot of energy out there (in the first half),” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “We gave them way too easy looks inside.”
Iowa (12-7, 5-3 Big Ten) had all the momentum going into halftime when Crystal Smith hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds to give the Hawkeyes a 37-32 advantage at the break.
But in the first minute of the second half, Minnesota started to take control of the game.
A steal and three-point play by April Calhoun ” playing her first game at Iowa since transferring from the Hawkeyes to the Gophers ” and baskets underneath by Broback and Podominick allowed Minnesota to retake the lead by scoring seven points in the first minute of the half.
“We came out like gangbusters,” Borton said.
Broback ” after spending most of the first half on the bench with two fouls and just two points ” stepped up defensively by drawing offensive charges on two consecutive Iowa possessions with less than 15 minutes left in the game.
After that, the Hawkeyes never got closer than seven points.
“Our defensive intensity, I thought, was there the first half,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “And it was nonexistent the second half. They just about scored at will.”
Although Minnesota was dominant in the paint, so were the Hawkeyes. Skouby shot nine-of-11 from the field with 20 points, and was the primary reason the Gophers didn’t build a substantial lead much earlier.
“We need to work on getting (Skouby) the ball more when she’s shooting like that,” Bluder said.
Although Minnesota could not stop Skouby, it was able to contain Smith, largely because of the defensive efforts of senior guard Shannon Bolden.
Smith, the Big Ten scoring leader at more than 19 points per game, was held to 11 points with Bolden’s hands in her face on nearly every outside shot she attempted.
“(Bolden) did a great job,” Borton said. “Shannon is a very intelligent player. She really knew what to take away from Crystal Smith.”
The Gophers’ victory made it their fourth-straight road win in the Big Ten as they hit the halfway point in their quest to a conference title.
“To be Big Ten champs you have to win on the road,” Broback said. “Every game you play is going to be competitive… we just have to keep winning the games we need to.”
Shannon Schonrock was the fifth Gopher player in double figures with 11 total points and three three-pointers.