Guards key big win over Purdue

The Gophers won 71-49 to recover from a drubbing by Michigan State on Thursday.

by David McCoy

Two things were missing from Minnesota’s women’s basketball team during its blowout loss Thursday against Michigan State – defense and production from its guards.

The Gophers found both Sunday.

In fact, Minnesota’s stingy defense and hot-handed guards were the key to its blowout 71-49 win over Purdue in front of a season-high 13,222 fans Sunday at Williams Arena.

The Gophers had five players in double figures, and, for the first time this season, four of them were guards.

Shannon Schonrock led the way with 13, followed by Kelly Roysland and April Calhoun with 11 and Shannon Bolden with 10. Bolden is listed as a forward, but Borton said she considers her a guard and plays her as such.

“All of us guards, we kind of talked about how we weren’t really a factor in the Michigan State game and how we needed to come into this game and the rest of the season being more of a threat offensively,” Calhoun said.

Bolden was even better on defense, holding All-Big Ten guard Katie Gearlds to just seven points total and two in the second half.

Bolden wasn’t the only one solid on defense – especially in the first half.

The Gophers didn’t allow a Boilermakers point until their ninth possession of the game, and Purdue didn’t score a third time until possession number 18.

“I thought the way we started the game really set the tone for the game defensively,” Borton said. “That’s something that we wanted to do was set the tone with our defense, and hopefully that would turn into offense.”

If it weren’t for their own mistakes, the Gophers would likely have put the game away even earlier.

During the span of time before Purdue scored its third basket, Minnesota committed six turnovers itself.

But with just less than nine minutes gone by, Schonrock nailed a three-pointer, was fouled and completed the four-point play to give Minnesota a 13-4 lead and awaken the Gophers’ guards from their offensive slumber.

Schonrock drained another three with just less than four minutes left in the half, sparking a 10-2 run that she capped with another three to give Minnesota a 31-15 lead with just more than a minute left.

Gearlds then knocked down a three-pointer for Purdue, but a three-point play by Calhoun and a jumper by Bolden just before the buzzer doubled up the Boilermakers 36-18 at the half.

Minnesota came back with an 11-4 run in the early part of the second half, which began with a drive by Bolden. Bolden’s shot was blocked, but Gophers center Janel McCarville swatted the ball out of the air and over to an open Schonrock, who hit her fourth three of the day.

McCarville had eight points, 12 rebounds and seven assists on the day.

Bolden followed up with a three-pointer of her own on Minnesota’s next possession and then capped the run with another three shortly afterward.

Altogether, Minnesota was 6-of-11 from downtown and shot 44.4 percent in the game overall.

Defensively, it was Minnesota’s 11th game holding an opponent to less than 50 points, which ties a 28-year old team record.

“Starts to the game usually determine the outcome,” McCarville said. “If you don’t start aggressively, you’re not going to all of a sudden turn on a switch and start being aggressive late in the second half. And we knew we had to come out today aggressively.”