To no­bod­y’s sur­prise, the Go­phers rolled over winless In­car­nate Word in a Wednes­day mat­i­nee at Wil­liams Arena.

The crowd of 7,835 — aug­ment­ed by thou­sands of el­e­men­ta­ry school stu­dents for the annu­al Field Trip Day — saw all 11 heal­thy Go­phers play in a 75-39 route that pushed the 14th-ranked Go­phers to 8-0. With three non­con­fer­ence games left — in­clud­ing what prom­is­es to be a chal­lenge at Bos­ton College on Sun­day — the Go­phers are in a good po­si­tion to head into Big Ten play with con­fi­dence.

And that’s main­ly be­cause of the de­fense.

In Lind­say Whalen’s first year as coach, the Go­phers have trans­formed them­selves into a de­fen­sive team fea­tur­ing a tight play­er-to-play­er scheme. In re­cent seas­ons, the Go­phers played a lot of zone, want­ing to out­score op­po­nents rath­er than shut them down.

This season? The Go­phers en­tered Wednes­day’s game ranked seventh a­mong Division I teams in points al­lowed per game (50.4), sev­enth in points al­lowed per 100 pos­ses­sions (93.3) and 24th in op­po­nent field-goal per­cent­age (33.8). And those fig­ures will im­prove af­ter In­car­nate Word scored 39 points on 22.7 percent shoot­ing.

Com­pare that to last season, when the Go­phers ranked 333rd (out of 349 teams) in points al­lowed (74.8), 263rd in points per 100 pos­ses­sions (97.2) and 285th in op­po­nent field-goal per­cent­age (42.4).

“The de­fense has been there,” Whalen said. “We fo­cused a lot on de­fense through­out the sum­mer and fall. So it’s not shocking that may­be a little of our of­fense is try­ing to catch up with our de­fense. But we feel [de­fense] can be a cor­ner­stone of our team and our pro­gram going for­ward.”

The of­fense has been up and down. But Wednes­day the Go­phers start­ed the game with a 12-0 run that fea­tured cen­ter Annalese Lamke with seven early points. For­cing the Cardinals (0-9) to double down low op­ened up the pe­rim­e­ter, re­sul­ting in Des­ti­ny Pitts break­ing out a bit, hit­ting five of nine three-point­ers for a game-high 15 points. Lamke fin­ished with 13. Fresh­man guard Mercedes Sta­ples add­ed 11 points and four as­sists.

Angelica Wiggins — the sister of Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins — led Incarnate Word with 13 points.

Up 32-11 at half­time, the Go­phers scored 32 third-quar­ter points on 10-for-14 shoot­ing be­fore Whalen played most­ly re­serves in the fourth.

It’s hard to tell ex­act­ly where the Go­phers are at this point, con­sid­er­ing the rel­a­tive strength of the sched­ule. The Go­phers got a big win over then-No. 12 Syracuse last week, and quality vic­to­ries over Xa­vi­er and San Diego, too.

But the one con­stant has been the de­fense. And Lamke isn’t sur­prised.

“We re­al­ly saw the defi­cits in our de­fense from last year,” she said. “I think we were re­al­ly ex­cit­ed to get the op­por­tu­ni­ty to fo­cus a lot on de­fense.”

Whalen said she’s most pleased by the de­fense, and how well the team has fol­lowed game plans. She also likes the way her team has re­spond­ed to points of em­pha­sis com­ing out of games. For ex­am­ple, Whalen wasn’t pleased with her team’s as­sist total (eight) and free-throw shoot­ing (20-for-39) in Sun­day’s vic­to­ry over Air Force. Wednes­day the Go­phers had 22 as­sists on 29 field goals and were 9-for-9 from the line.

“That’s the sign of a good team and smart play­ers,” Whalen said, “that we ad­dressed some­thing, worked on it in prac­tice and saw it in a game.”

The Go­phers game Sun­day at Bos­ton College (7-1) will be per­haps the best test be­fore the con­fer­ence o­pen­er. It will be on the road against an ACC team off to a strong start. Af­ter that the Go­phers host Cop­pin State (0-6) and Rhode Island (5-2) be­fore the Big Ten o­pen­er vs. Wis­con­sin (7-2) on Dec. 28, also at home.