Minnesota again impressive in exhibition finale victory

The Gophers beat St. Cloud State 82-42 Sunday at Williams Arena.

Emily Wickstrom

Although it was rocky at first, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team showed continued progress toward being season-ready.

The 16th-ranked Gophers beat St. Cloud State 82-42 in their final exhibition game on Sunday in Williams Arena in front of an announced crowd of 5,341.

The game looked like it might be competitive in the opening minutes.

Shannon Francis hit a three-pointer in St. Cloud’s first possession. Ten minutes later, the Huskies had a 17-12 lead.

“Our execution at the beginning of the game was very suspect,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “At this time of the year, your offense is always behind your defense… Obviously we have a lot of work to do at that end of the floor.”

But Shannon Schonrock made sure that was as close as St. Cloud would get.

The senior guard’s three treys over the next five minutes helped Minnesota get back on track and go on a 13-0 run, giving the Gophers a convincing lead they would hold the rest of the way.

Schonrock finished with a game-high 22 points, going 6- for-7 from behind the three-point line.

“We had to respond to their big start,” Schonrock said. “With that (three-pointer) they brought that intensity from the get-go. They weren’t intimidated at all.

“I hit a couple shots and got going. But as a team I think we did a good job of responding to that start they gave us.”

After Minnesota settled down, Borton said, she was more than happy with her team’s performance.

“Other than the first 10 minutes of the game,” Borton said, “I was overly pleased with our performance.”

Joining Schonrock in double figures were three post players. Junior Liz Podominick and sophomores Lauren Lacey and Natasha Williams all had 11 points.

Podominick was effective on the glass as well, finishing with 12 rebounds.

Gophers fans in attendance may also have caught their first glimpse of a future star.

Freshman Emily Fox played an impressive 22 minutes, recording eight points, eight assists and six steals.

“After today I feel a lot more confident,” Fox said.

Fox’s showing in Minnesota’s two exhibition games gives the Gophers some added depth at guard, especially important due to the injury-induced absence of senior guard April Calhoun.

“Players are learning and beginning to like playing with (Fox),” Borton said. “They’re learning to run the lanes with her because they know they’re going to get a good pass.”

Broback, Calhoun update

Borton confirmed last week that junior forward Jamie Broback’s leave of absence is academics-related. It is undetermined when she will rejoin the team.

Calhoun, currently out with a foot injury, will begin shooting and running in practice this week.

If Calhoun plays in next weekend’s Subway Classic, she will see limited minutes, Borton said.