The old saying that offense wins games and defenses wins championships held true Sunday at Williams Arena.
The No. 8-ranked Minnesota women's basketball team used its defense to turn a three-point halftime lead into a 75-55 victory in non-conference action versus Wisconsin-Green Bay. With the win, the Gophers extended their season-opening winning streak to eight, while UW-Green Bay fell to 5-4.
"We proved that we can win ugly," said Golden Gopher head coach Pam Borton. "We lacked intensity in the first half but played better in the second. The more physical and aggressive we play, the more we can try to wear a team down. That's how we play."
Playing for the first time in two weeks and without senior forward Kadidja Andersson (home in Sweden after the death of her grandmother), the Gophers struggled in the first half on both ends of the court. Although Minnesota hit on 59 percent of their first-half shot attempts, the Gophers also turned the ball over 11 times. Couple the Gophers' miscues with the hot three-point shooting of Green Bay's Abby Schlarlow, who went 4-for-4 in the half and scored 16 points, and Minnesota found itself in a dogfight, up just 36-33 at intermission.
The Gophers settled into their game in the second half. They continued to shoot well from the floor (52 percent) and took care of the ball, committing just three turnovers in the final 20 minutes. The defensive intensity was improved as well, as Minnesota limited Green Bay to just nine second-half baskets and 22 points while forcing 12 turnovers.
Minnesota closed the game on a 13-2 run in the final five minutes. The Phoenix' only points during the stretch were a pair of free throw by Tricia Grassell with 14 seconds remaining.
"We knew Schlarlow was a great shooter but we had better team defense in the second half," said Gopher forward Shannon Bolden, who drew the assignment of guarding Schlarlow.
Lindsay Whalen led the Gophers with 22 points, while dishing out eight assists. Janel McCarville tallied her fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds. She also collected four blocks and four steals. Also in double figures for Minnesota was freshman forward Jamie Broback, who added a career-high 11 points.
Wisconsin-Green Bay's Scharlow took game scoring honors with a career-high 26 points, including a 5-for-6 performance from long range.
Minnesota is off until Dec. 28, when the Golden Gophers face Georgia State in the Virginia Cavalier Classic.
Lindsay Whalen Bobble-Head Dolls Unveiled
The bobble-head craze has hit the Gopher women's basketball program. A limited number of Lindsay Whalen bobble-heads went on sale Sunday at Williams Arena. The bobble-heads are $20 each and will only be available at Williams Arena on game days.
Cassie Busse Named to Final Four All-Tournament Team
Minnesota senior opposite hitter Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) capped off a star-studded senior year by receiving NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team honors.
Busse had a match-high 23 kills and a team-high 12 digs in a hard-fought three-game loss in the Final Four to the eventual National Champions USC on Thursday, Dec. 18.
She finished her career ranked sixth on the Minnesota kills list with 1,502. Busse also became only the fourth player in school history to record over 600 kills, recording the fifth-highest total in school history at 614.
This season Busse was named a First-Team AVCA All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year, the Pacific Regional Most Outstanding Player, First-Team All-Big Ten and AVCA-All Region.
Minnesota finished the 2003 season with a 26-11 overall record. The Golden Gophers made their first Final Four appearance in school history, by defeating No. 4 Pepperdine in the Regional Semifinals and No. 13 Washington in the Regional Finals.
Baseball Team Ranked No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper
It's the holiday season, and that can only mean one thing in Minnesota – baseball! Before you get too confused, read a little further. The Gophers baseball team earned a No. 25 pre-season ranking in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Poll released recently. The defending regular season Big Ten Champions, who had a 2003 record of 40-22, received 432 points, tops by a Big Ten team. Ohio State, picked 31st, was the only other conference team in the top-40 poll. Rice and Miami tied for No. 1, the first time in the history of the poll two teams have been chosen for the top position.
Sophomore pitcher Glen Perkins (Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater) was named second-team Louisville Slugger pre-season All-American. As a freshman, Perkins broke Minnesota's single-season strikeout record by fanning 117 on the season and became the first pitcher in Big Ten history to win every conference start since the conference schedule went to eight conference series. The southpaw went 8-0 in Big Ten play, with a 2.32 ERA, 77 strikeouts and six complete games. His 77 strikeouts was the second-most recorded in a Big Ten season, and he earned second-team All-America and first-team Freshman All-America honors as well as being selected as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
The Gophers will open their 2004 season in their annual Pro-Alumni Game at the Metrodome on Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m.
In other Gophers baseball news, the 2003 Gophers winning its second consecutive Big Ten Title was named the fifth best baseball-related story in the state of Minnesota in 2003 by Baseball Minnesota magazine.
Gopher women hoopsters defeat UW-Green Bay, 75-55
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