Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gopher women unable to transition with Dayton


Minnesota head coach Pam Borton knew the Dayton Flyers, her opponent in the Subway Classic championship Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena, would use a fast tempo that thrived on transition buckets.

Unfortunately, Dayton's players found themselves flying all over the Gophers in a 97-81 loss in front of 3,086 who braved the aftermath of a statewide ice storm.

"Are we too slow? Are we tired? I've got to watch the film, but I was very aware of that happening," Borton said.

While Minnesota (3-2, 0-0) scored more points than they did in their 76-53 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee Saturday, the game hinged on a 6:53 stretch in the first half in which the Gophers missed 12 straight shots. Dayton (2-2, 0-0) capitalized with a 15-0 run that turned a three-point lead to 18 and varied little for the remainder of the game.

The big factor preventing a Minnesota comeback was Dayton scoring seven field goals within 10 seconds of a Gophers basket during the game.

"It's a style of play I used to use when I was at Marquette," said Dayton head coach Jim Jabir. "We were concerned about (Minnesota's) transition, but I was very happy with our pace."

Dayton junior guard Patrice Lalor scored a game-high 25 points after tallying just 18 in her first three games. Junior foward Justine Raterman added 21.

"I've been begging (Lalor) to do this since she came to school," Jabir said. "The first thing I said to her after the game was 'I expect this next game too,' and she said 'Coach, I'm trying.' "

Dayton silenced the crowd with their dominance, but one positive Gophers fans can take from their five-game homestand to open the season is Kiara Buford's scoring consistency. The junior guard led the team Sunday with 18 points, close to her average.

The hometown crowd got another scare in the first half, when Brianna Mastey injured her right leg and was taken out of the game. No updates were given as of Sunday night, but Mastey did return to the bench early in the second half.

Minnesota packs up for their first road trip of the season, playing a pair of games in the Nugget Classic at Reno, Nevada. Their opening match Friday pits them against San Diego State.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Antoine's six treys nets Super Six win


The Minnesota Gopher women's basketball team hosted the first game of the newly-minted Super Six series Wednesday night at Williams Arena against Pittsburgh.

The series, designed to create more marquis matches among the six power conferences in collegiate sports, could be a quick favorite for Gopher senior guard China Antoine. She nailed six three-pointers, giving the Gophers enough of a spark to beat Pittsburgh 73-63.

The Gophers (2-1, 0-0) trailed for nearly the entire first half as they struggled to find their shot, despite not going down by more than six points the entire game. Trailing 34-30 with just over two minutes remaining in the half, Minnesota ended with an 11-0 run and took the lead for good on Antoine's second triple. She finished the game with a career-high 18 points and five assists.

"When I hit the shot, I think we had momentum," Antoine said.

Pittsburgh (1-1, 0-0) made one last push to tie the game at 41 early in the second half, but Minnesota answered with a 9-0 run. Coupled with a stingy Minnesota zone defense that allowed just four Pittsburgh three-pointers in 20 attempts, the Gophers made sure no nails were bitten compared to Sunday's close loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay.

"It's a great sign of a very tight team," said Gophers head coach Pam Borton.

Cohesion, an early-season goal for Borton, started to show in Minnesota's third game of the season. The Gophers tallied 20 assists as a team to Pittsburgh's nine while they trimmed their turnovers from 27 in Sunday's game to 18.

"Minnesota took our posts out of the game," said Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato. "They walked us off the line, they walked us off the block. (Minnesota) has tremendous size."

What may have gone unnoticed to the 2,572 fans in attendance were solid showings from center Kristen Dockery and forward Brianna Mastey.

Dockery, filling in for an injured Katie Loberg, scored a career-high eight points and tied a career high in rebounds with nine in 30 minutes of play, also a career high.

"My team needed me to step up today. I just had to be ready to go," she said.

Mastey, who struggled to find offensive production in her first two seasons, notched a career-high 10 points while adding seven rebounds.

"Brianna continues to grow; she got off to a slow start tonight, I said something when she came out and she went in with a vengeance," Borton said.

Pittsburgh senior Brittaney Thomas scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Loberg, who injured her left knee Sunday, had an MRI revealing no serious damage. She is listed as day-to-day, although Borton hopes Loberg can return in time for the Subway Classic that starts Saturday.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gopher women "turn over" chance at weekend sweep


The Minnesota Gopher women's basketball team was unable to mask their growing pains in a 79-75 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay in the championship game of the Best Buy Classic Sunday at Williams Arena.

Five Green Bay players finished in double-figures as they took advantage of Minnesota miscues on defense and ball control, scoring several back-door lay-ups in the first half and forcing 27 turnovers throughout the game.

Green Bay, ranked 2nd by ESPN among mid-majors, had to fight off two Gophers comebacks after building an 11-point lead in the first half and 16 in the second.

"We stopped getting back on defense," said Green Bay head coach Matt Bollant. "We missed a couple of lay-ups; your missed shot leads to their fast break."

Both times, the Gophers cut the margin to two and late in the second, Minnesota had a chance to tie. However, with 30 seconds left, junior guard Kiara Buford could not grasp a missed jumper from Phoenix forward Julie Wojta. Sarah Eichler got the ball, forcing Buford and the Gophers to play foul-and-chase, and Green Bay finished the job from the free throw line.

"They caught us off guard," said Gophers head coach Pam Borton. "Some of our players played a lot of minutes, they took a rest for a second, that's when (Green Bay) took advantage."

While Borton hates losing, she saw Minnesota's performance as a big character-building moment early in the season.

"We were forced to play some freshmen that aren't ready to play in games like this. They played their butts off," she said.

Bollant, a Winona State graduate, said the Phoenix weekend sweep continues their mission of representing the mid-majors that began with their first NCAA tournament appearance in school history last season. Their qualification was also the first for a Horizon League school.

"Last year, we beat DePaul, Wisconsin and Marquette. We got everybody back from that team. We have the ability to go and make it happen," he said.

Gophers sophomore guard Leah Cotton scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting, saying her confidence is much higher than last year after finishing the first weekend making 15 of her 18 shots. Buford added 22 points.

"Cotton's going to make them a better team. If Cotton can do that for them, they're going to win some games in the Big Ten," Bollant said.

Higher scoring figures may be common for the 2010-11 season. The Gophers sank 53 percent of their shots in Sunday's loss after making 60 percent in their first game against Northern Illinois. Continuing to attack the post, the young Gophers team is also eager to develop an inside connection with themselves.

"We're our biggest supporters on the court," Buford said. "We're constantly huddling, telling each other what we need to do."

However, the Gophers may need to make a few unplanned adjustments. Sophomore center Katie Loberg was taken out of the game in the first half after injuring her left knee following a Brianna Mastey lay-up. Loberg needed assistance to get off the court. Her status was unknown as of Sunday night.

The Gophers continue their five-game opening homestand Wednesday night when they host Pittsburgh at 7:00 p.m. in Williams Arena.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gopher women on "board" in season opener


The University of Minnesota Gopher women's basketball team had one recurring theme throughout their season opener against Northern Illinois Saturday: rebounding from a 13-17 showing last year, where they finished last in the Big Ten Conference and dealt with a late-season schism questioning the heart of the senior class.

Fittingly, the Gophers capitalized on the boards, outrebounding the Huskies 41-21 en route to a 79-58 win at Williams Arena. The win, one of two semifinal games in the Best Buy Classic to open the season, will pit Minnesota against Wisconsin-Green Bay at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Williams Arena.

While the struggles of last season are well-documented by fans and reporters, the Gophers hope win number one sends a message that a new chapter has started.

"There's a lot of energy, a lot of passion. You could see it on the court," said junior guard Kiara Buford, named a team captain before the season.

Junior forward Jackie Voigt did most of the work on the glass, scooping 14 rebounds for Minnesota. Buford scored a game-high 22 points while sophomore center Katie Loberg added 15, a result of Minnesota's brilliance hitting shots inside and out. The Gophers made 60% of their shots for the game, a number rarely seen from Minnesota over the last few years.

"Points in the paint have gone up drastically from last year. That's why I think our shooting percentage is a lot better," Buford said.

"Our focus is to be a better half-court team. Jackie did an outstanding job with the boards," said head coach Pam Borton, who started her 9th season in Minnesota.

The Gophers needed almost a full half to get accustomed to their off-season adjustments. The Huskies used a 9-0 run to trim an 11-point deficit to 2 with 1:45 remaining in the first half before the Gophers responded with a 10-0 run to end the half, highlighted by a four-point play when sophomore guard Leah Cotton drained a three-pointer after Buford missed the back end of her free throws.

While offense and rebounding stepped up, turnovers kept the Gophers from utterly blowing out Northern Illinois, coughing the ball up 26 times to the Huskies' 14.

"We had some self-inflicted wounds: poor passing, three seconds in the lane. We've got to clean that up," Borton said.

Loberg and Buford believe cleanup will be short.

"First-game jitters, very fixable stuff," Loberg said.

Most of the pre-season attention has gone to the captains, but several freshman recruits played their first minutes of collegiate action. Minnesota native Sari Noga and Canadian Micaëlla Riché both scored five points in about 10 minutes of action.

Borton said she eventually plans to trim her rotation to nine players as she seeks cohesion with a younger team, but the players promoted their newfound depth that was also absent in the last few seasons.

"Last year, we struggled with off-the-bench production. People underestimate how important your bench is. We can go deep and we're trying to utilize that," Buford said.

Northern Illinois forward Courtney Shelton led the Huskies with 16 points. The Huskies will face George Washington University in the third-place game Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Williams Arena.

Programs available for DVD purchase

Autism Part 1 DVD cover

Autism: The Wall That Knows No Limits - Award-winning documentary series providing insights on autism rarely seen in contemporary media. Produced by someone on the spectrum, this series is a wealth of information for anyone seeking to learn about autism.
$15 for one episode, $50 for the complete series (4 episodes)

What Are You DVD cover

What Are You? A Dialogue on Mixed Race - Originally a school assignment, this one-hour documentary explores a population that existed for many years but didn't get much focus until recently. This program examines how a small but growing segment of the population could shift racial and cultural identity. Screened at the 2009 Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and will be screened at the inaugural Critical Mixed Race Studies conference at DePaul University. $15

Vices to Verses promo

From Vices to Verses: Featuring Voices Merging - From Vices to Verses: A New Era of Hip Hop and Action is a biannual conference held at the University of Minnesota. The goal is to promote the culture and history of hip-hop, which is often lost in the corporate mainstream representation. In this program, you'll see how the Voices Merging student group absorbed what they witnessed and how their experience will transform them as a group and as individuals. DVD copies come with 14 minutes of bonus footage not seen online or on TV. $15

Machine 2010 highlight promo

Minnesota Machine: 2010 - Geared for Greatness - Join the professional women's football team in their historic 2nd season. Despite several injuries that depleted the roster, the Machine finished 2010 with a 6-3 record and their first division title in franchise history, edging the Iowa Thunder in the Midwest Division of the American Conference. This highlight reel includes clips from the 2010 season and their interview on the cable television show Rollin' and Tumblin' - $15


Silhouettes by RZI Couture - The inaugural breast cancer benefit fashion premiere took place in St. Paul and was met with a fabulous response. All the models were breast cancer survivors or relatives of someone affected by breast cancer and all the clothing was designed by Rosalyn Smaller, owner of RZI Couture and currently fighting breast cancer herself. The TV version features testimonials from the models and co-host Miss Georgia of KMOJ. $10 of every purchase will be donated to RZI Couture to help the breast cancer fight! $15