Nov. 11, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - In the championship game of the Best Buy Classic host Minnesota (2-0) methodically pulled away in the second half to claim a 75-60 win over Villanova (1-1) at Williams Arena on Sunday afternoon. Senior forward Laura Sweeney (Marlton, N.J.) and senior guard Rachel Roberts (Marlborough, Conn.) were each named all-tournament selections for their play during the weekend.
In the championship game the Wildcats were led with 13 points by freshman point guard Caroline Coyer (Oak Hill, Va.), while Roberts scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. Villanova put 10 different players in the scoring column for the second straight game. Sweeney chipped in nine points in the tournament finale.
Early in the second half a three-pointer by senior forward Megan Pearson (West Chester, Pa.) cut the Gophers lead to 41-35 with 16:19 remaining but over the next seven-plus minutes Minnesota extended the margin to 13 points and took a 53-40 lead on a basket by Micaella Riche with 8:56 remaining. Down the stretch the Gophers maintained the double-digit lead and pushed the margin to as many as 19 points.
Minnesota was able to gain an edge by taking advantage of any mistakes that the Wildcats made. Although the Gophers had more turnovers than Villanova in the game (16-13) Minnesota wound up with a 20-5 scoring edge in points off turnovers. In addition the Gophers parlayed 24 fouls called on the Wildcats into 26 points on foul shots, finishing the game 26-of-31 (83.9%) at the foul line.
The first half began with a quick start by Minnesota and a three-pointer by Rachel Banham with 12:04 to play in the opening period gave the Gophers a 20-8 lead. They still led by double digits at 31-21 with 3:40 to go before the intermission but Sweeney made a basket at the other end and followed one possession later with a three-pointer that narrowed the gap to 31-26 and forced a Minnesota timeout with 2:44 remaining in the period.
Sweeney was 3-of-6 from the field and scored all nine of her points during the first half and the game was within reach for the Wildcats when the teams went to the locker rooms with the Gophers holding a 33-26 lead.
Villanova made its first four shots of the second half, a stretch which culminated with the three-pointer that Pearson made to get the Wildcats within six points. Villanova misfired on eight of its next 10 tries from the field however, a stretch which included the Minnesota run that put the game out of reach.
Riche gave the Gophers a lift in the second half and finished the game with 20 points on 7-of-8 accuracy from the field and 6-of-9 shooting at the free throw line. She scored 15 of those points in the decisive second half and Minnesota also received strong performances from Banham (13 points, three steals) and Sari Noga (nine points, 10 rebounds, three steals).
Next up for the Wildcats is a road game against Lafayette on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Villanova is playing its first five games of the season away from home ... The only previous meeting between the Wildcats and the Gophers prior to today's game came in 1983 in a tournament at La Salle ... In the consolation game of this weekend's tournament South Dakota State defeated Washington State, 65-56, in overtime ... Villanova defeated South Dakota State by a 71-47 count in its season opener on Saturday afternoon.