Jan. 5, 2012
Freshman Rachel Banham scored a career-high 26 points and added eight rebounds as the University of Minnesota (10-7, 2-1 Big Ten) women's basketball team claimed its first true road victory of the year, 68-60, at Northwestern (10-5, 0-2 Big Ten) Thursday evening in Big Ten action from Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Along with being the first true road win for the Gophers in 2011-12, the victory was also the first at Welsh-Ryan Arena since Jan. 11, 2007.
Banham notched 17 points in the second half alone, which included 10 points from the free throw line and five critical points in the waning seconds of the contest. The rookie finished the game 7-for-15 from the field and 2-for-3 from three-point range to improve her three-point field goal percentage to .444 overall for the season.
Senior Kiara Buford tallied 19 points for the second-straight contest after scoring 17 points in the first half. The guard was 4-of-6 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arch, and 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the opening stanza.
The Gophers have outrebounded their opponents in every Big Ten contest, and Thursday was no exception as Minnesota edged the Wildcats, 40-34, on the boards. The visitors also outshot the home team, .429 to .386.
Fouls played a big factor in the outcome of the game, with each team committing at least 20 personal fouls. Minnesota benefitted the most from the whistle as it made 22 of its 31 attempts from the free throw line.
At the first media timeout, the Gophers held a 9-6 advantage over the Wildcats thanks to seven early points by Buford. Minnesota continued to extend its lead throughout the first half, before Buford's three-pointer at 2:01 started a 7-0 Minnesota run. Cotton capped off the stretch with a layup at 1:13 to allow the visitors to take a 16 points lead, their biggest of the stanza.
Buford posted 17 points in the opening stanza, which included a 7-for-8 performance from the free throw line. Combined with nine points from Banham, the guard duo accounted for 26 of the Gophers' 37 points, and led the visitors to a 13-point halftime lead, 37-24.
Loberg scored the first four points of the second half, but it was Banham who would score the next eight points for the Gophers, including six from the free throw line to make the score 49-38 with just under 11 minutes to play.
The Wildcats were not ready to back down on their home court, however, pulling to within three points of the Maroon and Gold twice in the last two minutes of play. The Gophers took a big hit when Loberg was called for her fifth foul and was forced to shuffle off of the floor with 1:52 remaining, but Banham took control of the game and scored five points in the final 30 seconds to secure Minnesota's first true road win of the year.
The Gophers have a bye this weekend, before taking on No. 18/22 Purdue in a league rematch Thursday, Jan. 12 at Williams Arena.
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