Women’s hoops beat

by Dan Miller

INDIANAPOLIS – Janel McCarville let out a cry of frustration as the final buzzer sounded in Minnesota’s women’s basketball team’s 58-50 loss to Ohio State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-2-inch McCarville – with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 steals – posted what is believed to be the first triple-double in Big Ten Tournament history and the first by a Minnesota player in 20 years.

But her effort wasn’t enough as the 18th-ranked Gophers (21-8) lost their third game this season to the No. 22 Buckeyes (20-8) and were eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament.

“We worked out a lot of kinks,” McCarville said. “We came in as underdogs and we played like it … we showed a lot of heart.”

Kadidja Andersson, who was the only other Minnesota player in double figures with 10 points, brought the Gophers to within three points with 6:47 remaining.

Shannon Bolden was then called for a charge in transition and the Buckeyes’ Caity Matter hit a three-pointer to push the lead to 49-41 with 4:44 to go in the game.

The Gophers came back to within four points, but Matter knocked down five free throws in the last 2:15 and Kim Wilburn had a late steal to seal the Buckeyes’ victory.

Matter, who finished with 24 points, made up for the Buckeyes’ normally dominant inside game, which scored only 14 points in the paint.

Gophers coach Pam Borton said the performance was Minnesota’s best since losing leading-scorer Lindsay Whalen to injury while playing the Buckeyes on Feb. 12 in Columbus, Ohio.

“This is the best we’ve played in a month,” Borton said. “I thought we put our entire heart and soul and everything we had into this game. We left everything on the court.”

The Gophers have now gone 3-4 since losing Whalen, who is expected to return to practice sometime later this week. She will make her return in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21 at Williams Arena.

The anticipation of her return and the bittersweet end to the tournament have left the Gophers high hopes, and they are ready to let the healing continue in the next two weeks.

“It’s a little bit better mood leaving the tournament this year,” Whalen said, as she showed that there’s no pain in her hand, by moving her wrist and making a fist. She said she is waiting for the go-ahead from doctors before joining the Gophers in their two weeks of practice before the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio State coach Jim Foster, who coached Whalen last summer, said the Gophers will likely be a dangerous team when she makes her return.

“They have a second great player (McCarville), and when Lindsay comes back, they will be much better-prepared for the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “They’ll be a better, deeper basketball team.”

The Gophers have a couple days off before they begin two weeks of practice.

“We are going to work harder than we have ever worked in these next two weeks,” Borton said. “This team thinks we can go deep into the tournament.”