Sophomore Rachel Banhamscored 37 points and notched her 1,000th-career point, but it was not enough as the University of Minnesota (13-8, 2-5 B1G) women's basketball team fell to visiting Illinois (11-8, 4-3 B1G), 91-86, Monday night at Williams Arena.
Banham became the 21st Gopher, and third sophomore, in program history to score 1,000 career points when she nailed a three-pointer from the corner just 2:53 into the second half. Banham reached the milestone in just 57 games, making her the third-fastest player to reach the mark for Minnesota. Lindsay Whalen (2001-04) was the fastest to the mark in 51 games, while Laura Coenen (1982-85) eclipsed 1,000 points in 54 games.
On the night, the guard secured a career-high with 14 field goals and matched her career-bests with five three-point field goals and two blocks. Banham's 37 points were her best for a non-overtime contest and her most points scored in a Big Ten game. She added four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 39 minutes of work.
Micaëlla Riché contributed a double-double, the fourth of her career, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman Shayne Mullaney pitched in 11 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal. Leah Cotton dished out a career-high nine assists in 20 minutes of play, and Sari Noga and Kionna Kelloggeach notched nine points for Minnesota.
The Gophers allowed the Illini to take an early 5-0 lead to open the game, but pulled within one of the visitors, 5-4, at 17:17 thanks to baskets from Kellogg and Banham. Illinois answered with a 4-0 run to extend its lead back to five points, before a three-pointer by Banham at 13:44 evened the game, 11-11.
Another 5-0 run from the Illini made the score 16-11 with just under 12 minutes to play in the half, but an 6-0 run from Minnesota, which was capped by a three-pointer from Mullaney at 10:49, put the Gophers in the lead for the first time in the contest, 17-16.
Illinois continued its streaking ways and would go on to take a 12-point lead, 31-19, at 7:56. The Gophers once again matched the streak with a 17-8 run to pull within three points of the visitors, 39-36, at 4:09.
A jumper by Hirt on an assist from Banham cut Illinois' lead to one point, 42-41, with two minutes remaining in the half, but Illinois put together a 10-0 run to close out the half to make the score 52-41 at intermission.
Banham paced the Gophers with 10 points on 4-10 shooting from the field, while Riche added seven points and six rebounds for the Maroon and Gold.
Minnesota notched a .441 (15-34) shooting percentage, which included a 4-11 outing from three-point range, in the opening 20 minutes of play. Illinois connected on seven three-pointers
Illinois extended its lead to 14 at one point in the second half, but the Gophers kept making runs of their own to keep the game within reach. Late in the game, an 11-0 streak gave Minnesota its first lead since midway through the first half. Banham made a jumper to put the Gophers ahead, 82-81, with 4:10 left. The Illini jumped ahead again when Taylor Tuck made two free throws, and they held the lead for the rest of the game.
Banham scored 27 of her 37 points in the second half.
The Gophers are set to host #23 Michigan Thursday, Jan. 31, at 7:00 p.m.