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Feb. 28, 2013
Four Gophers scored in double-figures to help the University of Minnesota (17-12, 6-9 B1G) women's basketball team upset #7/7 Penn State, 89-81, Thursday night in Big Ten action from Williams Arena. Micaëlla Riché led the team with 24 points and five rebounds, while Rachel Banham, Sari Noga and Shayne Mullaneyadded 23, 19 and 10 points, respectively.
It was the first time the Golden Gophers defeated a nationally ranked opponent this season, and the first time it took down a team ranked in the top-7 nationally since they defeated Ohio State, 66-63, in overtime on March 6, 2005.
The victory was also the first for Minnesota against the Lady Lions (23-4, 13-2 B1G) since Feb. 11, 2010, which snapped a six-game losing streak to the squad. It also ended Penn State's six-game winning streak on the season and stopped the Lady Lions from clinching the Big Ten Conference regular-season title outright. They must now defeat #20 Nebraska on the road Sunday. If the Lions lose, they'll be co-champions with the Huskers, who barely beat 11th-place Wisconsin 55-53 earlier Thursday night to keep the race going.
Along with her 19 points, Banham matched her career-high with seven assists, while Noga notched her career-high with 19 points on a perfect 6-6 outing from beyond the arch. Her sixth three-pointers in the contest were not only a career-high, but her 1.000 shooting percentage from three-point range matched Minnesota's record for three-point percentage in a single game with a minimum of five attempts.
The Gophers shot an impressive .667 (28-42) from the floor, which included a .875 (7-8) mark from beyond the arch, and also notched a .839 (26-31) free throw percentage. The Lady Lions posted a .431 (31-72) field goal percentage, but were just 4-19 from three-point range.
The Gophers took an early 5-0 lead on the Lady Lions to open the game thanks to a three-pointer from Noga and a basket from Riché, but Penn State cut the home team's lead to one point with a 4-0 run of its own. With the game tied, 9-9, Noga drained her second three-pointer of the game and Riché added another bucket to extend the Gophers' lead back to five points, 14-9, at 16:05.
Riché pushed Minnesota's lead to seven points, 20-13, with a short jumper from the corner at the 13:56 mark, but a fastbreak jumper from PSU's Maggie Lucas with 9:38 to play in the half cut the home team's lead to three points, 22-19.
The Gophers would take their biggest lead of the half when Cotton connected on a pair of free throws at 3:30 to make the score 35-26 and cap off a 7-2 run by Minnesota, but the Lady Lions were able to put together an 10-2 run to pull within one point of the Maroon and Gold, 37-36, at halftime.
Riché paced the Gophers with 12 points in the first 20 minutes of play, while Noga added nine points, Kellogg chipped in eight points and Banham totaled six points and five assists.
Minnesota outshot Penn State, .684 (13-19) to .441 (15-34) in the half, which included an impressive .750 (3-4) mark from three-point range. The Gophers also held the advantage on the boards, 16-9, paced by four rebounds from Kellogg.
The Lady Lions were able to take their first lead of the game, 42-41, two minutes into the second half, but Riché and Noga once again teamed up with back-to-back buckets to put the home team back on top by four, 46-42, before Banham made it a seven-point lead, 51-44, for the Maroon and Gold with a successful three-point play and a basket in the paint.
Noga knocked down her fifth three-pointer of the contest at 11:02 to extend Minnesota's lead to 11 points, 63-52, and free throws from Loberg and Mullaney put the home team ahead by 12 points, 68-56, and Noga's sixth three of the game made the score 71-58 with eight minutes to play in regulation.
Penn State continued to claw its way back into the contest with their tough press defense on the Gophers. Steals turned into field goals for the Lady Lions as they chipped their way back to a 76-70 deficit with 3:25 to go in the game.
With the fouls continuing to rack up, Mullaney knocked down 6 free throws in the span of less than a minute of play to put the Gophers up 82-74 with two minutes to go. From there on out, the Gophers never let up and sank five clutch free throws to give them the 89-81 upset victory over No. 7 Penn State on senior night.
Minnesota travels to Indiana (11-16, 2-12) Sunday to take on the Hoosiers at 1 pm CT. This is the first match-up between the teams this season.
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Minnesota will celebrate senior night on Thursday at Williams Arena. The game will be on BTN at 8 p.m.