Strong First Half Leads Gophers Past Bradley in WBI Quarterfinals
March 18, 2012
A strong first half which saw the second-ranked Minnesota women's basketball team shoot .643 from the field, paced the Gophers to a 85-59 victory vs. No. 3-seed Bradley in the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) quarterfinals Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.
With the win, Pam Borton's squad improved to .500 on the year with a 17-17 record and advanced to the WBI Semifinals where it will face No. 8 seed Manhattan at Williams Arena Friday at 7:00 p.m.
As a team, the Maroon and Gold shot a season-high .571, connecting on 28 of its 49 attempts in the game, while all players on the active roster were able to get quality minutes on the floor.
For the second-straight game, Minnesota had four players score in double-figures. Kiara Buford tallied a game-high 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and a perfect 8-for-8 outing at the free throw line, while she also dished out four assists. Micaëlla Riché chipped in a career-high 15 points and two rebounds on 6-for-8 shooting, and Leah Cotton and Katie Loberg contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively, in the winning effort.
With her 16 points against the Braves, Buford registered her 1,500th career point, one of only seven players in program-history to achieve the feat, and enters the WBI semifinals with 1,508 total points.
Minnesota took an early, 6-3, lead thanks to four points from Riché, but Bradley fought back with a 5-0 run to take its first lead of the contest, 8-6, at the 14:24 mark. The two squads traded leads four times after that point, but Minnesota finally broke it open with a 14-2 run, which was capped off with a layup by Riché at 6:10, to make the score 26-15.
The Gophers would go on another long scoring stretch, this time a 13-5 run, to head into halftime with a 39-20 advantage over the Braves. The 19-point lead at the break was the Maroon and Gold's largest of the first half.
Minnesota shot an outstanding season-high .643 in the opening stanza, connecting on 18 of its 29 attempts, while the defense held Bradley to only seven field goals and a mere .241 shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Riché paced the Maroon and Gold with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor in the half, while Mastey and Kellogg each pulled down a team-best five rebounds.
Bradley was able to pull within 12 points of the home team, 43-31, in the early minutes of the second half after putting together an 11-4 run, but the Gophers retaliated with five unanswered points to extend its lead to back to 17 points, 48-31, with 15:43 to play.
Buford connected on four-straight free throw attempts at 10:13 and 9:41 to push Minnesota's lead to 23 points, 64-41, before a pair of free throws off the hand of Nicole Mastey and a basket by Dvorak at 1:05 made the score 85-55 and gave the home team its largest lead of the game at 30 points.
Minnesota scored 26 of its 46 second-half points at the free throw line, shooting .839 (26-31) in the half and .848 overall.