MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- No. 14 Minnesota has been relying on its
bench to outlast its Big Ten opponents. In Sunday's 77-72 win over
Penn State, it was a pair of reserves that made the key plays down
Natasha Williams took a lob pass in the lane off an inbounds
play and pushed in a one-hander to put the Gophers ahead for good
at 69-68 with 2:05 remaining.
The shot clock was at 2 seconds when Minnesota set up for the
"We have special situations and that's one of them," said
Williams on her basket, which came with the shot clock winding
down. "I just attacked the rim."
"They ran the play well," said Penn State's Amanda Brown.
"Props for them making it, but we should have been more prepared
Katie Alsdurf's only two baskets of the game were key in helping
run Minnesota's winning streak to five games. After making a long
3-point shot, she grabbed an airball by Jamie Broback and flipped
the ball into the basket for a 73-68 lead with 59 seconds left.
"It's called scoop," joked Alsdurf about the play. "I just
was trying to hit the rim, and then it went in. Hey, it worked."
"I hope I got counted for the assist," said Broback, who led
all scorers with 25 points. "Good thing Katie was there, a nice
little finger roll."
Minnesota held a 21-6 edge in bench scoring. In their last four
Big Ten games, all victories, Minnesota's bench averaged 36 points.
In their last loss, a 60-56 overtime setback to Purdue, Minnesota
got just 16 points from its reserves.
"Our bench made the difference, especially in the end," said
Minnesota coach Pam Borton.
Minnesota's solid play in the closing minutes wasted a strong
effort by the Nittany Lions, who wiped out an early 13-point lead
to go up 68-67 on Brianne O'Rourke's free throw with 2:37
remaining. But while Minnesota made the clutch baskets, Penn State
missed several shots and turned the ball over in the closing
"We don't need heroes, we need to play as a team," said Penn
State coach Renee Portland. "Crucial mistakes took this one away
April Calhoun scored 13 points and Liz Podominick added 10 for
Minnesota (15-4, 7-1 Big Ten).
Brown and Kamela Gissendanner each scored 18 points for Penn
State (9-11, 3-6). Andrienne Squire scored 15 and Brianne O'Rourke
Minnesota held Penn State scoreless for nearly six minutes
midway through the first half, building a 27-14 lead on a pair of
free throws by Broback. The Nittany Lions, who missed 20 of their
first 28 shots, got back into the game with a 10-2 run, pulling
within 34-30 on Gissendanner's short hook shot.
Penn State went ahead 58-54 midway through the second half when
O'Rourke made four straight free throws to finish off an 11-0 run.