Behind a 32-point performance from sophomore guard Rachel Banham, the University of Minnesota (14-8, 3-5 B1G) women's basketball team defeated visiting Michigan, 82-67, Thursday night in Big Ten action from Williams Arena.
Banham impressed from start to finish against the Wolverines (16-5, 5-3 B1G), shooting 11-15 from the field, which included a career-high six three-pointers and a 4-4 performance from the free throw line. She would add four rebounds, four assists and a steal to her stat line.
In the past two games, Banham has combined to score 71 points on back-to-back 30-point outings and now holds a 21.8 points per game average in Big Ten action. The guard has also made 19-straight free throws dating back to the Gophers' victory vs. Ohio State on Jan. 10.
Micaëlla Riché and Kayla Hirt also scored in double-figures for Minnesota, with Riché posting 15 points on 6-10 shooting with four rebounds and two steals, and Hirt adding 10 points on 5-8 shooting from the floor. Sari Noga contributed nine points and matched her career-high with five assists and Shayne Mullaneyproduced eight points and matched her career-best with eight assists.
As a team, Minnesota shot nearly .600 from the floor, connecting on 32 of its 54 attempts for a .593 shooting percentage. The Gophers notched a .615 mark in the second half and a .571 mark in the first and dished out 21 assists, their most in Big Ten play this season.
The home team also took care of the ball against the Wolverines, who are receiving votes in both national polls this week, turning the ball over only four times in the entire contest. The last time the Gophers had less than four turnovers was on Feb. 13, 2003, when they turned the ball over just three times in a victory at Northwestern.
After falling down 7-2 early in the game, the Gophers used an 11-2 run to go ahead 13-8 at 14:33 thanks to seven points from Banham and two points each from Mullaney and Riché. Michigan answered right back with a 6-0 run to once again take the lead, but Banham knocked down her second three-pointer of the game to put the Gophers back on top, 16-14, at 12:10.
Michigan's Kate Thompson followed up with a three of her own to put the lead in the Wolverines' favor, and the two teams would continue to trade leads until the 1:51 mark when Hirt sank a fastbreak layup to put Minnesota ahead, 38-35. Noga drained a three-pointer just seconds later to put the Gophers up by four and Mullaney made the score 43-37 with 23 seconds to play in the half. A foul with .3 seconds remaining allowed the Wolverines to put two more points on the board before halftime, making the score 43-39 in favor of the Gophers at intermission.
Minnesota notched a .571 (16-28) field goal percentage in the first half, which included a .556 mark from three point range. The Maroon and Gold also connected on all six of its free throw attempts and scored 11 points off seven Michigan turnovers.
Banham was Minnesota's top scorer in the half, posting 17 points on 5-5 shooting from the floor. The sophomore was 3-3 from beyond the arch and 4-4 from the free throw line. She added two assists and a steal. Riché chipped in eight points and two steals, while Noga contributed six points and two assists.
Banham opened the second half with a jumper in the paint and a three-pointer from the corner, upping her point total to 22 in the contest, as she connected on her seventh-consecutive field goal. From there, the Gophers would go on to lead by as many as eight points, 50-42, at the 16:52 mark on a basket from Mullaney.
The Wolverines would put together a 7-0 run to make it a one-point game, 50-49, with 15:29 to play, but another three-pointer from Noga extended Minnesota's advantage back to four points 30 seconds later. Banham's bucket in the lane at 14:03 put the Gophers ahead by six and Riché's layup made it an eight-point cushion, 57-49, at the 13:26 mark of the second half.
Banham's fifth three-pointer of the game put the home team on top by 11 points at 12:27, before her sixth of the contest at 9:34 gave Minnesota a 12-point lead, 65-53.
The Maroon and Gold would take an 18-point lead, 80-62, its largest lead of the game, at 3:27 on a fastbreak jumper from Riché, which would be too much for Michigan to overcome.
Minnesota returns to action Sunday when they travel to Lincoln, Neb., for a rematch vs. Nebraska. Tip off for the contest is set for 2:00 p.m.