Feb. 13, 2012
The Minnesota women's basketball team used a second-half surge to upset No. 16 Nebraska, 64-58, Monday night in Big Ten Conference action from Williams Arena. It marked the second time this season that the Golden Gophers defeated a ranked opponent at the Barn.
The win improved the Maroon and Gold's record to 13-14 on the season and 5-8 in league play, and also snapped the squad's three-game losing skid. The Cornhuskers fell to 19-5 overall and 8-4 in conference action with the defeat. It was the second-straight loss for No. 16-ranked Nebraska, as it dropped a contest to Michigan Thursday to end its four-game win streak.
Rookie Rachel Banham led all scorers with 21 points, as she shot 8-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, while adding four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Fellow guard Kiara Buford chipped in 16 points to go along with two steals and two assists. The senior was also hot from the floor, making six of her nine field goal attempts, which included a 2-for-2 performance from beyond the arch.
In her first start of the season, senior Brianna Mastey scored nine points and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds, two of which were critical in the final seconds of the contest. The guard was 7-for-10 from the free throw line and contributed two steals, an assist and a block.
Also gathering 11 rebounds for the Golden Gophers was sophomore Kionna Kellogg. The forward tallied six points, a block, a steal and an assist to aid in Minnesota's winning effort.
As a team, the Maroon and Gold shot .434 (23-53) in the contest, upped by its .484 shooting percentage in the second half. The squad also won the battle on the boards, 42-31, and picked up 13 of its points at the foul line.
Minnesota trailed 11-3 early in the contest, but fought back to close the gap and finally take the lead, 16-15, on a fast-break layup from Banham with 9:42 to play in the opening stanza. The Cornhuskers quickly recouped, however, regaining a three-point lead following a 4-0 run just before the third media timeout of the half.
The home team was able to once again take an advantage with a fast-break layup by Buford, making the score 20-19, but Nebraska answered back with a basket of its own to reverse the roles once again. But, the Gophers used a 7-0 scoring run, which included a three-pointer by Banham, to take a, 27-24, lead with just 40 seconds to play until halftime, a mark that would stand as the buzzer sounded.
Heading into the contest vs. the Cornhuskers, Minnesota was 12-3 on the year when leading at halftime, which included a 4-2 mark in league play, and improved those records with their win over Nebraska.
Buford led all players with nine points in the opening half, with Mastey and Banham each adding seven points apiece. Mastey paced the home team with six rebounds in the first stanza, while Kellogg pulled down five.
Neither team shot well in the first 20 minutes of the contest, with Minnesota holding a slight edge in shooting percentage with a .364 mark, compared to the Cornhuskers' .345 percentage. The Gophers were aided by Nebraska's eight team fouls which sent them to the line 10 times and allowed them to post nine points.
Minnesota came out of the locker room fired up in the early minutes of the second half, taking its largest lead of the game, 40-24, at the 17:00 mark courtesy of a 13-0 run led by Buford, Katie Loberg and Banham. Buford had seven points, an assist and a steal, while Loberg had four points, two blocks, an offensive rebound and an assist during the stretch. Banham added two points, two assists, two steals and a rebound.
Nebraska was able to close the gap to three points, 42-39, with 12:20 on the clock and again at 11:41, 44-41.
At the 10 minute mark, the Cornhuskers tied the game once again, 46-46, but Banham knocked down a trey to put the Gophers back on top by three. Once again, Nebraska returned the favor to knot the game at 49-49, before Banham connected on her third three-pointer of the night to give the lead back to the home team, 52-49.
Micaëlla Riché scored four points in the second half to help the Maroon and Gold extend its lead back to seven points with just under six minutes left on the clock, but, for the third time of the stanza, Nebraska managed to tie the game, this time at 58-58, with just over three minutes remaining.
The score remained knotted, until an offensive rebound and a putback by Kellogg put Minnesota on top, 60-58, with a minute left to play. Mastey pulled down a key offensive rebound in the waning seconds of the game, which eventually led to the Cornhuskers sending Banham to the free throw line. The rookie connected on both attempts to make it a two-possession game with just 15.3 seconds on the clock.
Hooper attempted a deep three-pointer with just over six seconds remaining, but Mastey once again was clutch on the boards for the home team, as she pulled down the defensive rebound and made a pair of free throws to seal the victory for the Gophers.
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Game Preview: Iowa
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