The Golden Gopher women's basketball team remained undefeated as they opened the Big Ten season in impressive fashion. Led by the dynamic backcourt of All- American L indsay Whalen and senior Corrin Von Wald, Minnesota (12-0, 1-0 Big Ten) was able to knock of the Wolverines 98-70 before a season-high crowd of 6,317. Whalen and Von Wald combined for 48 out of the team's 98 points with Whalen scoring 30 and Von Wald chipping in 18.
Center Janel McCarville was the only other Gopher in double-figures as she scored 16 points in only 17 minutes. She also led the team with seven rebounds. The 10th-ranked Gophers won their conference opener for only the third time in the last twelve years.
"Overall I am extremely pleased with the effort that our team gave tonigh," said Golden Gopher head coach Pam Borton. "This was our best game of the year on both ends of the court. It was great to get a Big Ten win going into our road game with Penn State. I thought the keys to our success tonight were our rebounding and our team defense."
Facing by far its most difficult opponent to date, Minnesota showed no signs of not being ready for the challenges the Big Ten presents The Golden Gophers led for almost 37 out of the 40 minutes, never trailing after Michigan (9-3, 0-1 Big Ten) took a 4-2 lead at the 17:51 mark of the first half. From there, Minnesota slowly built a comfortable lead, as the Gophers never led by fewer then seven points after the ten-minute mark of the first half.
Von Wald continued her hot shooting at home as she finished a perfect 6-6 from the field in the first half to score 13 points. She sparked the team with her tenacious defense that helped frustrate the Wolverines into nine first half turnovers. With Von Wald sparking the defense, Whalen sparked the offense as she shot a blistering 7-9 from the field including 2-3 from behind the arc giving her 16 points for the half. Her basket with 1:51 to play in the first half gave the Gophers their largest lead of the half at 43-26. Minnesota went into the locker room holding a 45-30 advantage after shooting nearly 67 percent from the field.
The second half was more of the same for Minnesota as the Gophers started to pour it on and run away to a blowout victory. Opening the half on a 16-7 run, the Gophers increased their lead to 61-37 five minutes into the second half. They used another big run, this time a 14-4 run to put the game out of reach at 77-43 with 10:09 to play in the game. The 34-point margin was their largest lead of the game. At that point, with victory well in hand, Minnesota was able to enjoy their most impressive victory of the season. A behind the back pass from Whalen to McCarville for a three-point play put a resounding exclamation point on a 98-70 victory.
Minnesota will next be in action on January 6, when the take their perfect record to the Bryce Jordan Center where they will take on No. 15 Penn State. The Nittany Lions won the only meeting between the teams last season.
GOLDEN GOPHER WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
January 2, 2003
Minnesota 98 , Michigan 70
Pam Borton - Minnesota Head Coach
"Overall I am extremely pleased with the effort that our team gave tonight. This was our best game of the year on both ends of the court. It was great to get a Big Ten win going into our road game with Penn State. I thought the keys to our success tonight were our rebounding and our team defense."
(On the pace that Minnesota) "When we play at a fast pace we tend to wear other teams down. We wanted to establish that pace tonight, because Michigan is a big and physical team. We also play our best when the game is moving at a fast pace. I thought tonight Lindsay (Whalen) did her best job of the year in terms of controlling the tempo of the game."
(On schedule to this point of the season) "We have not been at Williams in a week and we played eight of 11 games to start out the year on the road. Regardless of who you play road games are always tough."
Sue Guevara - Michigan Head Coach
"I think I saw four tapes of Minnesota and in those games I did not see the team that I saw here tonight. We just got beat by a very good basketball team with a lot of weapons. I am very impressed Minnesota's defense. Last year they were all zone and I am very impressed with the defensive game that Pam Borton has created with this team. I could tell that Minnesota was happy to finally be home and the crowd was with them as well."
"I am not happy with our offense or shooting, but that is something that we need to work with in time for our next match-up. We also had a lack of discipline offensively, but there still are a lot of games left."
"In Minnesota's transition between coaches they have kept everything together. They are a very competitive seasoned ball club. I am very impressed with the way scoring was distributed. It wasn't just a Lindsay Whalen show, but she is one of the players that can make things happen."
Lindsay Whalen - Minnesota Guard
"We wanted to come out and play well tonight to start out Big Ten play. People had talked about our non-conference schedule, but our main goal tonight was to come out and start Big Ten play strong."
(On playing the game at a fast tempo) "We have a lot of great athletes on this team. Any time we can get out and push the ball it is to our advantage. The fact that we rebounded well and got a lot of steals tonight really helped spark our offense."
Kadidja Andersson - Minnesota Forward
"Tonight was a good measure to see where our team is at this point in the season. It gives us a lot of confidence to come out and beat a team of Michigan's caliber by nearly 30 points. It felt good to start the conference and although it is early this game helps our confidence out a lot."
Corrin Von Wald - Minnesota Guard
"It felt good to play in front of the home crowd tonight. I have not shot that well the last couple of games, but the basket has looked real big when I have played a Williams Arena this year. We were just excited to get out in front of the fans and play well. We are also excited to start out Big Ten play with a win."