Gophers’ Iverson leads nation in rebounding

Aaron Kirscht

A pair of tough losses over the weekend pushed the Gophers women’s basketball team’s record to 2-13 overall, 0-5 in the Big Ten.
Minnesota had a shot at its first conference victory in 26 tries on Friday, but lost in overtime to Illinois, 89-85. Michigan State pulled away early in Sunday’s game and cruised to the finish, winning 76-65.
Gophers center Angie Iverson continues to lead the Big Ten in rebounding, with 12.8 per game. Her average is the second best in the nation behind Etolia Mitchell of Georgia State (14 per game), but Iverson leads the nation in total rebounds with 154.
Iverson’s offense was impressive this weekend, as well. She scored 22 points against Illinois and tied a career high against Michigan State with 24.
But in the Illinois game, it was the one point Iverson didn’t score that hurt most. She missed a free throw with less than 10 seconds to play that could have given the Gophers a lead in regulation. The game went to overtime, and Minnesota went cold, losing 89-85.
Winberg comes home
Michigan State forward and Mounds View native Whitney Winberg helped hold off the Gophers’ second-half rally Sunday with a pair of timely baskets.
Winberg was originally recruited by the Gophers, but Hill-MacDonald lost interest because of health concerns. Winberg had surgery to repair her anterior cruciate ligament in high school.
Michigan State and coach Karen Langeland stepped in, however, and Winberg is now the back-up at center for Nicole Cushing-Adkins.
“Whitney has learned an awful lot this year about Big Ten basketball,” Langeland said. “It’s much more physical, and she’s had to make a lot of adjustments from high school. We’re real pleased with her progress.”
But Hill-MacDonald had no regrets. She said Michigan State took a risk and it seems to be paying off.
“That happens with players,” Hill-MacDonald said. “For one reason or another you back off. But (Michigan State) got a very good basketball player.”
Burning it up
All in all, freshman guard Kiauna Burns had a nice weekend. She led the Gophers in minutes, playing 42 in the overtime game with Illinois and 39 against Michigan State.
Burns struggled a bit against Illinois’ trapping defense, committing seven turnovers. But she responded Sunday with a seven-assist, 10-point performance and only two turnovers.
“I took better care of the ball, didn’t force anything,” Burns said. “I took my time on offense.”
In keeping with her take-it-as-it-comes attitude, Burns said playing all but four minutes in two games was no big deal.
“I’ve done this before,” she said. “Obviously, it’s a different level, but it’s all in your head. If you don’t think you’re tired, then you’re not going to play that way.”
Dazed and confused?
Cushing-Adkins may be a star on the court, but her performance in the post-game interview session on Sunday was anything but impressive.
Imagine a deer facing down a monster truck. Cushing-Adkins looked even more clueless.
After leading the Spartans with 16 points, most of which came in spurts at the beginning of each half, Cushing-Adkins was asked if that kind of streaky scoring is normal for her.
She could manage only a shrug, eyes like a pair of full moons, and this bit of immortal wisdom: “I have no idea.”
It’d be a lot cooler if she did.