It took 10 games, but the Minnesota women’s basketball team is finally playing consistently on both ends of the court.
The defense has been solid for the Gophers throughout the season and on Wendesday night, they proved they can score with some authority over the course of an entire game.
The Gophers shot .500 from the field on Wednesday night as they dominated Idaho State 79-44 at Williams Arena.
“I thought it was a great win for our team,” Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. “Our players got really excited to play Penn State on Sunday, and to play a game like this next, as a coach you’re hoping to avoid a letdown. I was really proud of our team for showing up and putting a complete game together on both ends of the floor.”
Minnesota (7-3 overall, 1-0 conference) had an all around strong team effort with 10 Gophers scoring, including six players with six or more points. The scoring effort was led by sophomore Kiara Buford who had a game-high 13 points. Sophomore Jackie Voigt finished with 12 points and Senior Ashley Ellis-Milan added 10 points and a game-high six rebounds.
Minnesota has had its struggles shooting the ball for most of the season thus far, averaging just .371 from the field before Wednesday’s game. But not only did the Gophers make half of their field goals against Idaho State, they also shot .727 from behind the 3-point line. One game against a lesser opponent is not enough to say the Gophers’ shooting woes are cured, but it was certainly a step in the right direction.
Besides the strong scoring numbers, the Gophers dominated the rest of the box score as well. They forced the Bengals to commit 22 turnovers, with 14 coming off steals. Minnesota also outrebounded Idaho State 39-24.
“I think we came out trying to set the tone with our intensity,” Buford said. “No matter who we are playing, we’ve got to come to play every night. We just tried to shut them down and play hard.”
The Gophers maintained a small lead throughout most of the first half, but Minnesota’s offense found its groove going on a 17-0 run, including 3-pointers from Voigt and China Antoine late in the half to build a dominate 40-17 lead.
It was more of the same for the Gophers in the second half as bench players began seeing substantial minutes while Minnesota’s lead grew against an Idaho State team that looked completely overmatched.
“I think that we’ve been emphasizing that we need our bench,” Ellis-Milan said. “They have got to be just as good as us [the starters] because we’re only as good as our weakest player. They are very vital to our team.”
Minnesota continues its break from the Big Ten schedule and face Iowa State at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at Williams Arena.
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