Nebraska went on a 10-0 run at the end of the first half and led in the second.
Despite surrendering a 21-point first-half lead, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team recovered enough to get all that was important — a win.
The Gophers pulled out a 78-70 victory over Nebraska on Saturday at Williams Arena.
Minnesota looked the best it has all season in the first half, jumping out early with a 12-0 run to take a 20-7 lead seven minutes in.
The game looked like it would be an even bigger blowout when the lead stretched to 45-24 with 2:45 left to go and the Gophers shooting nearly 70 percent from the floor.
“I thought the first 17 minutes of the game was a great indication of how great of a basketball team we can be,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said.
But then Nebraska’s Kiera Hardy decided to take over.
Hardy, the Big 12’s top-scoring underclassman last year, scored eight points in the remaining few minutes to get Nebraska on a 10-0 run and back in the game, which turned into a 45-36 Minnesota advantage at halftime.
She took an unusually high number of shots, 25, including 16 three-pointers.
“(Borton) talked about before the game that she’s a loose cannon,” said senior Shannon Bolden, who drew the task of guarding Hardy. “The second she got an open look she was going to take it.”
Nebraska outplayed the Gophers at the start of the second half, taking a 51-49 lead with 15 minutes left to play after a Hardy three-pointer.
But a defensive play by April Calhoun changed the game seconds later.
The senior guard took a charge that gave Hardy her fourth personal foul, forcing Nebraska coach Connie Yori to put her on the bench with 14:24 left in the game.
Hardy was held out for almost eight minutes, and the Gophers took full advantage of her absence.
They outscored Nebraska 16-7 with her on the bench.
“They’re a different team when (Hardy)’s on the floor,” Borton said.
When Hardy returned with just more than six minutes to go, Minnesota was leading 65-58 and Hardy had lost her shooting touch.
She was not a factor down the stretch, unable to add to her 22 points after Bolden and the rest of the Gophers defense held her scoreless the remainder of the game.
Minnesota received big baskets underneath in the game’s final minutes from junior post players Jamie Broback and Liz Podominick.
Broback finished with a season-high 22 points to go with 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Podomonick had 15 points, while Calhoun and Kelly Roysland had 12 and 11, respectively.
“I know my role,” Broback said. “And I think everyone stepped up in that sense when we knew we had to get a stop and convert on the other end.”
Although Borton was pleased with the game’s result, she said she was concerned with the advantage Nebraska had on the glass.
The Huskers outrebounded the Gophers 37-24, 20 of which were offensive.
“We’re playing too hard on defense to give up second and third opportunities,” Borton said.
© Copyright 2005 The Minnesota Daily