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Gopher women's hockey players holding the championship trophy.

Banner day for Gopher women

By Rick Moore

It was a dreamy Sunday afternoon for Gopher women's sports fans. First, the women's basketball team continued its impressive post-season run by upending another higher-seeded team--this time Boston College--by a score of 76-63 in the Mideast Regional in Norfolk, Virginia. Two hours later, the Gopher women's hockey players were throwing their gloves and helmets into the air to celebrate their first NCAA national championship after ambushing Harvard 6-2 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The women's hockey team, which has watched its rival UMD Bulldogs win the first three NCAA women's titles, can finally hang its own NCAA championship banner in Ridder Arena. After falling behind second-ranked Harvard 2-1 in the second period, the top-ranked Gophers responded with five unanswered goals, including two in the first 41 seconds of the third period. Natalie Darwitz had a hat trick, and the high-powered line of Darwitz, Krissy Wendell, and Kelly Stephens combined for five goals and 11 points against the Crimson. (A celebration to welcome the team back was scheduled at Ridder Arena (5th Street side) for 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 29.)

The Gopher basketball team advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in history, establishing its place among the nation's top teams and proving that its magic extends well beyond Williams Arena. Janel McCarville was once again unstoppable, with 25 points, 15 rebounds, and seven blocked shots. Shannon Bolden added 13 points to another memorable defensive performance and Kadidja Andersson chipped in 11 points. Oh, and Lindsay Whalen? She had 15 points and 10 assists--including the usual array of highlight-reel passes. Next up for the Gophers is the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. The winner gets a place in the Final Four next weekend in New Orleans.

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