Minnesota comes away with road win

Kelly Roysland scored 20 points and was 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

Paul Cordes

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Minnesota women’s basketball team beat a ranked team for the first time since Jan. 25, 2006 with its win over No. 25 Nebraska on Tuesday.

In their first non-neutral road game of the year, the Gophers battled with the Cornhuskers and were able to pull off the 74-65 upset in Lincoln.

Coach Pam Borton called the win a big team victory.

“I knew we were going to learn something about our team tonight,” she said. “We came out ready to play and we played great basketball.”

Borton credited big defensive stops, rebounding and clutch free throws at the end of the game as the things that allowed Minnesota (8-2 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) to put Nebraska away.

Senior guard Kelly Roysland played a scoring role, as well as an emotional one, on the floor. Her 20 points led the team and she was perfect from the free-throw line, hitting all five attempts, four of which came in the last 30 seconds of the game.

“(Roysland) plays such an important leadership role out there for us,” freshman guard Brittany McCoy said. “It’s comforting when she’s out there and she comes up with big plays when we need them.”

However, McCoy played possibly the most important part in the Gophers victory. She had the task of guarding Nebraska senior guard Kierra Hardy, who has been a key player for the Huskers all season.

McCoy held Hardy to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Hardy came into the game averaging 15.6 points per contest while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor.

“Brittany played unbelievably well tonight,” Borton said. “She played with such poise and confidence out there, and I couldn’t be more proud of what she did out there tonight.”

Not only was she able to contain Nebraska’s biggest threat, but she did it while playing with four fouls for the last 10 minutes of the game.

McCoy’s defense was contagious in the last part of the second half, as the Gophers kept a talented offense from hitting a field goal in the final 3:52 of the game.

That defense, combined with winning the rebound battle 51-38, put Minnesota in command and never let go.

Freshman forward Korinne Campbell once again led the Gophers’ rebounding effort with 14, including key rebounds late in the second half.

With the Gophers down by one, Campbell missed her second free throw attempt and was able to battle inside after the miss to get her own rebound. She went back up with it, was fouled and tied the game with her next free throw. Minnesota never trailed from that point on.

“Korinne gets in there and creates a lot of disorder,” Borton said. “She has a lot of length, and when she was able to get that rebound off her own free throw, I thought that was one of the biggest plays of the game.”

Nebraska (6-2, 0-0 Big 12) did have opportunities to win the game but let most of them slip away.

The Huskers hurt themselves early by missing their first eight field goal attempts of the contest.

Nebraska got another break when sophomore guard Emily Fox got her fourth foul of the game with 18:04 left to play and was forced to spend the majority of the second half on the bench.

But the Huskers’ scoring drought at the end of the game and some clutch plays from a number Gophers put Minnesota ahead when it mattered most.

“This is a great win for our program and for this team,” Roysland said. “We’re not getting complacent after this, but it’s a huge confidence builder and I think we showed that we are a very good team tonight.”