3:00 PM ET, January 7, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Gophers weren't going to let it happen again.Less than two weeks after blowing a 17-point lead in a loss to Iowa, Minnesota turned to its post players to maintain a similar edge and hold off Wisconsin in Sunday's 71-53 victory.Leading 30-18 at the half, the Gophers saw Wisconsin cut the lead to five points at 48-43 on Caitlin Gibson's basket with 8:25 left."Basketball is a game of runs, it's just a matter of sustaining those runs," said Leslie Knight, who scored a career-high 14 points on seven-of-eight shooting from the floor. She scored two key baskets down the stretch to keep Minnesota (10-6, 2-2 Big Ten) in command."You can learn valuable lessons in losses," said Gophers coach Pam Borton. "That game (against Iowa) left a bad taste in our mouths. We gave that game away, and they were upset and mad."Kelly Roysland scored two of her game-high 20 points to touch off an 11-1 run by Minnesota that pushed the lead back to 59-44 with 5 minutes left, and the Badgers (12-4, 1-2) couldn't catch up."They forced us into one-on-one basketball instead of a patient offensive front," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "Defensively, we lacked the intensity that I really thought we would bring."Ashley Ellis-Milan, who has become the latest dominant post player for the Gophers, scored all 15 of her points following halftime after two early fouls forced her to play just five minutes in the first half. She didn't shoot the ball in the first half, but was 6-for-7 from the floor in the second half."I just had to find a way to keep myself in the game," Ellis-Milan said. "It's hard when you're sitting there for 15 minutes."Knight was dominant in the beginning, scoring eight of Minnesota's first 12 points to put the Gophers in the lead for good. She added two key layups late in the second half to help Minnesota maintain the upper hand.Jolene Anderson, who came into Sunday the third-leading scorer in the Big Ten at 17.3 points per game, missed her first nine shots but scored 10 of her 16 points early in the second half when the Badgers tried to rally. Anderson was Wisconsin's only player in double figures."I wasn't ready to play in the first half," said Anderson. "I took it personal, I knew I had to pick things up."Thanks to a "Burst the Barn" promotion, 11,121 fans turned out. It was the 21st time the Gopher women have played before more than 10,000 at Williams Arena."We want this to be as common as possible," said Roysland, the only senior on the Minnesota roster, who reached at least 20 points for the fourth time this season. "We love the chance to play in front of a crowd like this and that's why we came to Minnesota. We wanted to put on a show for them."It was the first time Ellis-Milan, a redshirt freshman, played in front of such a large crowd at Williams Arena."I told my teammates, 'you guys, let's just dance," said Ellis-Milan, who was asked by Borton to give the team's traditional "thought of the day" before Saturday's practice. "Let's show them we can play in the Big Ten. It's fun having that many fans cheering for you."After Mariah Dunham's 3-pointer put Wisconsin ahead 7-4, the Badgers went nearly 10 minutes without a field goal. By the time Rae Lin D'Alie ended the skid, Minnesota had built a 23-10 lead.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press