Women's basketball: Harper leads way in second exhibition

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2007 - 11:39 PM

The native Australian played well in a game against a team from her homeland.

Perhaps it should be no surprise that Zoe Harper looked right at home Sunday night in the Gophers women's basketball team's 88-48 exhibition victory over the Australian Showtime Skins. Harper is, after all, a native of Perth, Australia.

The 6-3 sophomore came off the bench to lead the Gophers with 18 points, hitting nine of 14 field-goal attempts in 27 minutes of action. A year ago she averaged a mere 3.0 points, with a season high of 10 points.

What's most important is that Gophers coaches are convinced that Sunday was a glimpse of things to come, rather than a one-night frolic against fellow Australians. The sophomore center went through a season of adjustment a year ago, but made huge strides in her game over the summer, according to coach Pam Borton.

"Zoe has so much potential," Borton said. "We're just seeing about 20 percent of what she's going to be able to do."

Harper had scored only five points in a season-opening 86-60 exhibition victory last week over Minnesota State-Mankato. That performance prompted a one-on-one meeting with Borton.

"We talked about my role," Harper said. "Tonight I just went out and tried to do what I could do."

Harper notwithstanding, the highlight for the Gophers was the defensive intensity of the first 10 minutes. The Australians didn't record a field goal until Ashley Marble made a three-pointer with 10:35 left in the half, cutting the Gophers' lead to 23-7.

The Australians didn't get a two-point field goal until 12:57 had elapsed.

But the night clearly belonged to the Gophers' lone Australian.

"Just to hear some Australian accents was really cool," Harper said, smiling. "And the Australian anthem at the beginning was good, too. Yeah, it was a fun night."

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