Gophers Topple No. 9/9 Ohio State, 76-65

Go Gophers! Katie Loberg had 13 points and six rebounds Sunday against the Buckeyes.
Go Gophers!
Katie Loberg had 13 points and six rebounds Sunday against the Buckeyes.
Go Gophers!

Jan. 29, 2012

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The University of Minnesota women's basketball team shocked No. 9/9 Ohio State 76-65 Sunday afternoon in front of a Williams Arena crowd of 5,626. The triumph moves the Gophers to 12-11 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten Conference play, while the Buckeyes suffered only their second loss of the season to drop to 20-2 overall and 7-2 in league action.

It was the first time the Gophers had defeated a ranked opponent since March 22, 2009, when it took down No. 23/20 Notre Dame in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, while it was the first time the squad beat a ranked team at Williams Arena since clinching a 79-70 win over the Buckeyes on Jan. 24, 2008.

The Maroon and Gold had four players score in double-figures in the victory, led by freshman Rachel Banham's 20 points. Senior Kiara Buford added 15 points, while Katie Loberg and Kionna Kelloggchipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively.

The Gophers shot an impressive .500 from the field, which included a 6-for-10 outing from three-point range, while also connecting on 16 of their 17 free throw attempts.

With her 15 points in the contest, Buford surpassed Marty Dahlen and moved into Minnesota's all-time top-10 in scoring with 1,350 career points. The senior was 6-for-12 shooting and also dished out a career-high seven assists.

Banham was forced to sit out a large portion of the second half after picking up her fourth foul with 13:15 to play in the stanza, but still finished the contest with a team-best 20 points. She was 5-for-8 from the floor, 3-for-4 from beyond the arch and a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.

Loberg scored the first five points for the Gophers with a three-point play and a layup down low, before a basket by Buford put Minnesota ahead, 7-6. Banham extended the Maroon and Gold's lead to four points with her first three-pointer of the day to make the score, 10-6, at the first media timeout.

The pair of points for Buford made her the 11th-highest scorer in Minnesota program history, passing Ellen Kramer who scored 1,136 points from 1987-91.

Loberg continued to work hard down low against OSU's Ashley Adams, putting the home team ahead by six points with a short jumper at 14:45.

The Buckeyes continued to chip away at Minnesota's lead, but Banham connected on her second three-point field goal of the half to keep her squad ahead by four, 17-13, with 11:40 remaining on the clock.

Back-to-back buckets by Kellogg gave the Gophers a 10-point advantage with 8:48 to play in the half, 23-13, but Ohio State fought back to within three points on a 9-2 run, 25-22..

The Buckeyes closed the gap to three points once again with under a minute to play in the half, but Noga stopped the visitors' momentum in its tracks with a three-pointer at the 30-second mark to send Minnesota into halftime with a 34-28 lead on the ninth-ranked team in the country.

Banham led the Gophers with eight first-half points, including a 2-for-2 performance from three-point range, while Loberg finished the half with seven points. Kellogg and Buford each chipped in six points, with Kellogg collecting a team-high five rebounds.

As a team, Minnesota shot .519 (14-27) from the floor in the opening stanza and held the Buckeyes to a .229 field goal percentage and only eight field goals. The Gophers had 13 personal fouls in the first 20 minutes, with Banham and Kellogg each heading into the locker room with three apiece, allowing OSU to get 12 points from the free throw line.

Minnesota was 3-for-4 from three-point range, while OSU was not able to connect on any of its eight attempts.

A slow start to the second half by the Maroon and Gold allowed Ohio State to pull within one point of the home team, 34-33, but Banham hit her third three-pointer of the contest to extend its lead to four. Noga followed with a three-pointer of her own to keep Minnesota ahead, 39-35, with 15:55 to play in the game.

A trio of free throws from Banham and a three-point basket off the hand of Buford extended the Gophers' lead to eight points, 45-37, at the 13:31 mark. Minnesota would lead by as many as 11 points twice in the ninth minute of the second half thanks to buckets by Micaëlla Richéand Loberg down low.

With 7:49 remaining in the game, the Maroon and Gold held on to a 59-53 advantage, courtesy of seven second-half points from Buford.

The Buckeye's Samantha Prahalis hit back-to-back three-pointers with under six minutes to play to make the score 63-59, but Kellogg knocked down her fifth-career three-point basket to extend Minnesota's lead back to seven points.

Buford's layup at 1:22 gave Minnesota a 14-point lead, its largest of the contest. The Buckeyes tried to rally late in the contest as Tayler Hill connected on a deep three pointer, but the Gophers' lead was insurmountable. Banham would dribble the remaining time off the clock to cap the thrilling 76-68 victory for Minnesota.

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