3:00 PM ET, January 22, 2006
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Down at halftime for the first time in the Big Ten season, Minnesota coach Pam Borton once again looked to her bench for a boost.Once again, the Gophers' reserves came through.Minnesota used a second-half scoring surge and another dominant performance from its bench to put away pesky Iowa in an 80-68 victory on Sunday.The 12th-ranked Gophers (13-4, 6-1 Big Ten) used a 22-6 run to start the second half and a 30-15 advantage in bench scoring for their third straight win."The difference was how we started the second half," Borton said. "We came out like gangbusters, showed a lot of passion and a lot of energy out on the floor. We definitely did a better job defensively just by pressuring the basketball."Liz Podominick had 13 points and Jamie Broback and Natasha Williams chipped in 12 points each for the Gophers. Minnesota won by double-digits for the third straight game, despite trailing the Hawkeyes (12-7, 5-3) 37-32 at halftime.Podominick had six points during the run to start the second half, but it was the Gophers' defense that made the difference.Minnesota forced the Hawkeyes into five missed shots and three turnovers in Iowa's first eight possessions of the second half and stifled Iowa's Crystal Smith into a 2-for-14 shooting day. Smith, the Big Ten's leading scorer going into the game, managed a season-low 11 points.Shannon Bolden, Minnesota's defensive wizard, harassed Smith for most of the day, forcing her to take contested shot after contested shot."Bolden did a great job on Crystal last year at our place," Borton said. "She went 2-for-14 and I think that was a difference. Shannon is a really intelligent player ... just with her length (Smith) had to shoot over a 5-11 player with her hand up, I think that bothered her a little bit."And just as in last week's home victory over Michigan State, when the Gophers bench outscored Spartan reserves 55-15 to bounce back from a tough loss to Purdue.Five players scored in double-digits for Minnesota, including Shannon Schonrock, who scored nine of her 11 points on 3-pointers."They're very deep, that's a strength of their basketball team," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "But I'm not going to use that as an excuse. We didn't foul anybody out tonight, and I don't think it hurt us."Freshman center Megan Skouby led the Hawkeyes with 20 points, and forward Krista VandeVenter added 15 points and 12 rebounds.