3:00 PM ET, February 5, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota coach Pam Borton was worried about her team looking past Michigan and ahead to a crucial upcoming stretch.The surging Gophers quickly put her mind at ease.Jamie Broback scored 21 points to lead No. 12 Minnesota to its seventh straight victory, 83-48 over Michigan on Sunday afternoon in front of its largest crowd of the season. The Gophers (17-4, 9-1 Big Ten) showed off their balance and got ready for next week's road games against No. 17 Michigan State and No. 8 Purdue.Sophomore Janelle Cooper, the only non-freshman starter for the Wolverines (6-17, 0-11), had 13 points.Though standouts Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville are gone, this might be Minnesota's best team since the program was revived in the 2001-02 season -- judging by the combination of quality and quantity."I think also it's the most talent we've had, and the most versatility," said Shannon Schonrock, who had 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting and made four of her team's 10 3-pointers. "I think that's what's going to take us far this year."Backups Natasha Williams and Kelly Roysland added 18 and 12 points for the Gophers, who kept pace with No. 8 Purdue and No. 7 Ohio State. The Boilermakers and Buckeyes both won on Sunday to improve to 10-1 and 9-1, respectively, in the league. On Feb. 16, Minnesota hosts Ohio State."I'm not saying who I think the best team is head-to-head," said Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett, "but for us with what we do ... I think it's very difficult to guard Minnesota. They've played us twice better than anybody."Schonrock, a senior who is now three 3-pointers from tying Lindsay Lieser's school career record of 216, was honored with a halftime ceremony -- flanked by dozens of gold-clad fans from her hometown of Winnebago and the surrounding area about a two-hour drive south of Minneapolis."I have been very blessed with a great amount of support," Schonrock said.On the court, too.Broback is averaging nearly 25 points over her last four games, and Williams is 14-for-15 from the floor in her last three games. They were way too much for the Wolverines to handle around the basket, especially with center Stephany Skrba in foul trouble and top reserve Katie Dierdorf unable to play because of a hip injury suffered at the morning shootaround."We just wanted to show 12,000 people what we were all about," Borton said. "That's hard work and second effort and just a lot of energy out there."After Cooper banked in a 3-pointer from the corner, drawing smiles from her bench and cutting Minnesota's lead to 41-30 early in the second half, the Gophers resumed their domination underneath and around the perimeter.A 3-pointer by Broback sealed a 9-0 spurt, and another one minutes later made it 56-34. The second string finished off a 28-9 run with 7 minutes remaining to get the lead to 30.Cooper's first of three 3-pointers came nearly 4 minutes into the game and gave Michigan its first points. Broback already had nine herself by then, working Minnesota's high-low passing game effectively with fellow post Liz Podominick.She helped the Gophers close out the half strong, swishing a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 33-19 and then catching a sideways shovel pass from sophomore Brittney Davis on a fast break and turning it into a layup and a 39-22 lead."We were still within shouting distance," Burnett said. "And then of course they busted it open."The Wolverines, in Burnett's third season, are going through major growing pains. Junior Kelly Helvey, who started the first nine games, was the only upper-class player on the roster until a season-ending knee injury in early December.Not only are they without a win since Dec. 13 over Fordham, but they've lost all but one of their conference games by 10 points or more. A 51-43 defeat to Purdue at home was the only single-digit margin.Burnett, who turned down the Minnesota job in 2002 before Borton took it weeks later, has a 25-57 record at Michigan -- including a 7-36 mark in the Big Ten.
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