Balanced attack leads Gopher women

For once, it wasn't Lindsay Whalen or Janel McCarville who carried Minnesota as the Gopher women's hoops team remained the last unbeaten team in the country with an win over Illinois Thursday night at the Barn.

Minnesota's 74-59 victory over the Illini was a testament to the team's depth, as Illinois' defense limited Lindsay Whalen to just 11 shots and 12 points on the night.

But freshmen Liz Podominick, Kelly Roysland and Jamie Broback came off the bench to combine for 24 points, helping fill in the gaps in the Gopher offense.

Minnesota stormed to a 40-20 halftime lead, thanks to the contributions of the freshmen. In fact, Whalen didn't score until 14 minutes had elapsed, but the Gophers led 24-12 without her usual offensive outbursts.

Podominick scored six quick points, Roysland chipped in with a 3-pointer and another bucket, and Broback scored on consecutive possessions late in the half as the crowd of 7,362 roared its approval as the teams went to the locker room.

In the second half, Illinois would not let the Gophers run away and hide, and Whalen and McCarville each went to the bench with four fouls midway through the half, giving the Illini an opening.

But senior forward Kadidja Andersson slammed the door emphatically, taking over the game on the offensive end with six points and a sweet feed to a streaking Shannon Schonrock for a baseline layup, helping the Gophers restore their lead with their two top scorers on the bench.

McCarville paced the Gophers with a quiet 15 points, and she added 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. The double-double was her seventh of the season. Sophomore forward Shannon Bolden added a career-high eight rebounds as the Gophers won the battle on the boards 40-33 -- a key focus of Minnesota's gameplan against the Big Ten's top rebounding team.

Minnesota (15-0, 4-0) now faces its toughest stretch of the season, with games at No. 9 Purdue on Sunday and No. 8 Penn State next Thursday, followed by a home contest against No. 25 Michigan State on Jan. 25.

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