March 2, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - Junior Rachel Banham scored 27 points for the University of Minnesota women's basketball team en route to a 74-57 victory over Big Ten opponent Ohio State to close out the regular season. With the win, the Gophers wrapped up regular season play with a 19-11 overall record and an 8-8 Big Ten record heading into the Big Ten Tournament, while the Buckeyes fell to 15-17 overall and 5-11 in Big Ten play.
Banham's 27 points not only led the Gophers to victory over the Buckeyes, but also etched her name into the Big Ten and Minnesota record books.
The guard finished the regular-season as the Big Ten scoring champion with an average of 23.3 points per game in league contests. She becomes the first Gopher since Carol Ann Shudlick in 1993 to earn the distinction and only the third all-time.
Banham also broke the Minnesota single-season record for three-pointers when she drained her 75th and 76th three-pointers of the season in the first half. At the start of the game, Banham needed two threes to break the record. The mark was previously held by Katie Ohm, who had 74 during the 2008-09 season.
Redshirt freshman Amanda Zahui B. recorded her 14th double-double this season with 14 points and 18 rebounds to top off the afternoon and seal the win for the Gophers. The game marked the 21st game where she recorded 10 or more points and her 20th game with double-figure rebounds. Zahui B. ends the regular season with 83 blocks.
Zahui also made her way into the Big Ten record book on Sunday, as she concluded her first season in the conference as the Big Ten rebounding champion with an 11.5 rebounds per game average in league contests. She is the first Gopher to lead the Big Ten in rebounding since Janel McCarville in 2005.
Minnesota completed the game with a .389 (21-54) field goal percentage, a .412 (7-17) three-point field goal percentage and a .862 (25-29) free throw percentage while out-rebounding the Buckeyes, 42-33. Ohio State recorded a .345 (20-58) field goal percentage, while shooting .389 (7-18) from three-point range and .714 (10-14) from the line.
With jumpshots from redshirt junior Amy Scullion and senior Martina Ellerbe, Ohio State went ahead by four points early on, but Banham drained a three-pointer three minutes in to bring the Buckeyes lead to only one point. Senior Sari Noga followed suit and added three more for the Golden Gophers to help them take their first lead of the game at 16:32, 6-4.
Ohio State would tie it up at six before the Gophers would take the lead for the rest of the game at Williams Arena. The first half was highlighted by an incredible pass by Zahui B. behind an Ohio State defender to senior Micaella Riche, finished the layup and grabbed two for the Gophers, extending their lead to 24-15 with 5:58 remaining in the first half. The Gophers entered the locker room with 16 points from leading scorer, Banham, six points from Bre McDaniel and the 35-21 lead.
The Gophers started the second half with a 21-point lead, their largest of the game, with 14:36 left to play. Between then and the end of the game, the Buckeyes would cut the lead to as little as 10, as they continued to pressure the Gophers. McDaniel would end the game with 11 points and five boards for the Gophers, as she played a good game on both sides of the ball.
Six Gophers would tally points and three would end in double-digits as Minnesota went on to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Seniors Noga and Riche were honored for their contributions to the Golden Gopher women's basketball team at the conclusion of their regular season game at Williams Arena in front of friends, family, fans and teammates. Noga finished the game with nine points and four rebounds while Riche notched six points and three boards in their home arena finale.
With the win, the Gophers captured the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament set to start on Thursday, March 6. The Gophers will take on No. 11-seed Wisconsin on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. The game will air on the BTN.
Courtside with Kenisha Bell
The Gophers assists leader and one of the team's top scorers, Bell has returned to the court where she played state tournament games.
Minnesota Falls to No. 8 Florida State, 75-61
Kenisha Bell scored 17 points and Carlie Wagner added 15 for the Gophers (4-3).
Wagner Named to Naismith Watch List
The Gophers' junior, currently the No. 3 scorer in the Big Ten, is a candidate for the player of the year award.