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The No. 6/6 Minnesota women's basketball team set a school record with their 13th straight win to open the season, defeating Northwestern, 72-40, in Evanston, Ill., on Thursday. The Golden Gophers' 13-0 (2-0 Big Ten) mark betters the 12-0 start from last season.
The Gophers made their first nine field goal attempts, blitzed to a 25-2 lead in the first eight minutes of the game and never looked back. Lindsay Whalen led all scorers with 21 points, while Janel McCarville added 15 and Shannon Schonrock 10.
"\\"Things came pretty easily for us in the first half," said Golden Gopher head coach Pam Borton. "I think we maybe lost a bit of our focus was that big of lead in the second half."
McCarville directed the game's opening tip to Shannon Bolden, who raced in for a layup and the scoring deluge was on. The Gophers' next eight possessions resulted in scores either from assists or steals. All five Minnesota starters (Whalen, McCarville, Schonrock, Bolden and Kadidja Andersson) had already notched points in the scoring column with the first 3 minutes, 16 seconds of the ballgame.
Northwestern (7-6, 0-2) scored just once in its first 15 possessions, that included eight missed shots and six turnovers. Wildcat forward A.J. Glasauer scored on a layup two minutes into the game and then finally halted the scoring draught nine and a half minutes later
By halftime, Minnesota held an insurmountable 44-16 lead.
The Gophers had the luxury of using a variety of lineups in the second half. Minnesota's three freshmen came off the bench to contribute a combined 57 minutes with Kelly Roysland seeing 26 minutes, Jamie Broback 17 minutes and Liz Podominick 14 minutes.
The Gophers struggled in the second half finding any kind of rhythm with these unfamiliar lineups. Minnesota hit just five field goals in the second half but the Gophers lead was never threatened thanks to a 17-of-21 performance from the free throw line. Despite the Gophers shooting 27.3 percent in the second half, they still finished shooting 53.2 percent for the game.
Northwestern scored half of its 16 field goals in the game from three-point range. The Wildcats did not attempt a free throw.
The 40 points scored by Northwestern sets a Minnesota school record for the lowest point total allowed in the NCAA era. This is the second time this season the Gophers have broken the record. Minnesota opened the season holding Southern to 41 points to set the record the first time in 2003-04.
Minnesota plays host to Iowa on Sunday in the Gophers' next action. As of Thursday evening, only 600 tickets remained available for the contest.