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.
Balanced attack leads Gopher women
Gopher Illustrated Top Stories
Focus on 16-17: The RotationToday the Focus Series turns to the rotation which is something for GI fans to think of when they see tomorrow’s scrimmage.
Gopher Illustrated10:55 AM
Game Preview: Rutgers vs. MinnesotaGopherIllustrated's Ryan Burns previews the Rutgers vs. Minnesota game this Saturday as the Gophers attempt to get their first Big Ten home win of the season.
Gopher Illustrated6:20 AM
Gopher Gridiron Radio 10.20.16Luke and Ryan preview the Gophers homecoming game against the Scarlet Knights for Rutgers.
Gopher IllustratedYesterday at 8:12 PM
SI Included Now In Your GI MembershipBecoming a GopherIllustrated member just got better.
Gopher IllustratedYesterday at 11:52 AM