Roysland gets 1,000 in Minnesota’s win

Kelly Roysland broke her collarbone two and a half weeks ago against Iowa.

Paul Cordes

Senior guard Kelly Roysland waited more than two weeks to reach 1,000 career points, and she wasted no time in her return against Indiana on Sunday.

Forty-four seconds into the game, she scored Minnesota’s first points with a three-pointer from the wing to give her exactly 1,000 career points, and she would eventually lead the Gophers women’s basketball to an emotional 79-69 win on senior day.

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As Minnesota’s lone senior, Roysland was the center of attention in front of 8,612 fans at Williams Arena, and Roysland said it was a very special day for her.

“I couldn’t have asked to start any better way,” she said. “I hit that three-pointer right off the bat and there were a lot of emotions and I got to share it with a lot of special people; it’s a day that I’ll never forget.”

To make it a little tougher for her not to forget, the mayor of her hometown of Fosston, Minn., read aloud a proclamation at halftime, officially making Sunday Kelly Roysland Day in the city of Fosston.

Joining the mayor were hundreds of Fosston faithfuls who made the trip to watch Roysland in her second-to-last game at Williams Arena.

They, along with Gophers coach Pam Borton, sported white “Roysland Rocks” T-shirts.

Borton, who had made the promise to wear the T-shirt during the summer, said she was proud to honor Roysland by wearing the shirt and was even prouder that Roysland came out and played 24 minutes in her first game back since breaking her collarbone against Iowa two and a half weeks ago.

“It was the right thing to do to start Kelly on her senior day, even though we didn’t know if she would come out and play three minutes or 24 minutes,” Borton said. “I did not expect her to play as much as she did, and I think her going out there and scoring our first five points as a team gave her a lot of confidence as well as our team.”

The young Minnesota team relied on Roysland heavily during the first part of the season and was forced to rely on other players for success during her absence.

One thing Borton stressed to her team was the fact they could not go back to relying on Roysland in every situation, and those who had played bigger and more important roles in the last four games needed to continue to do so.

Sophomore guard Emily Fox was certainly one who had played an increased role in the past two weeks as she averaged 18.8 points per game with Roysland on the bench. She didn’t let Roysland’s return deter her from her new role as she led the team with 23 points Sunday.

“I knew I had to step up and play a bigger role while (Roysland) was out,” Fox said. “I’m still going to continue to try to do whatever I can to make the team better, but I feel so much better now that Kelly is out on the court because she brings so much leadership and calmness out there for us.”

The leadership and calmness must have spread quickly for the Gophers as they controlled nearly every aspect of the game against the Hoosiers (15-11 overall, 4-9 Big Ten).

And despite having a 20-point lead narrow to just five with 2:53 to go in the game, Minnesota shot 12-of-12 from the free-throw line, holding off Indiana and giving the Gophers (14-12, 6-7) a much-needed victory.

“We knew that they were going to fight to the end just like they did when we played at their place,” Roysland said. “We made some free throws down the stretch which was huge and we have to keep coming with that attack mode and if we play how we’re capable of, good things are going to happen.”

Minnesota is going to need some good things to happen as it closes out the regular season in the next two weeks.

Borton said Sunday’s game wasn’t always pretty but at this point in the season, winning is what matters most.

“This time of year, we just have to tough it out and try to get some wins here,” she said. “But we’ll get ourselves ready to go on the road this week.”