Williams is fifth Minnesota player to leave program

Updated: April 5, 2006, 7:54 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota women's basketball team is running out of players.

Sophomore forward Natasha Williams became the latest departure on Wednesday when she was granted a release from her scholarship, the school announced in a news release.

Williams, who averaged 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds while starting 14 of 29 games, is the fifth player to leave the team since the season ended with a first-round loss in the NCAA tournament. Gophers coach Pam Borton didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

After center Liz Podominick's decision to quit basketball and focus on her goal of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics in track and field, Borton said Tuesday night that each of the departing players made individual decisions.

But questions are lingering. With six outgoing seniors, Minnesota now has only three players left who stepped on the court this season. Only two of them, guard Kelly Roysland and guard Emily Fox, saw significant playing time.

Jamie Broback, the leading scorer and rebounder who has also chosen to leave, was suspended briefly for an academic matter early in the season and then benched for nearly the entire second half in the Gophers' game against Washington in the tournament.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press