March 16, 2012
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team made a great first impression in their Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) debut Friday night, upending visiting Charleston Southern, 80-51, Friday night in the first round of the event in front of the home crowd at Williams Arena.
With the victory, the second-seeded Golden Gophers improved their record to 16-17 on the season and advance to the WBI Quarterfinals, where they will host No. 3-seed Bradley Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena. Tip off for the game is set for 2:00 p.m.
Four players scored in double-digits and 10 players scored at least one point for the Gophers in the route, with freshman Rachel Banham leading the way with 16 points. Micaëlla Riché and Kiara Buford each added 12 points and Katie Loberg chipped in with 10 points.
The Gophers let by 10 points near the midway point of the opening half, 20-10, but the Buccaneers pulled to within four points, 22-18, with 9:28 to play in the stanza.
But, the Maroon and Gold's tough defense led the squad on a 12-0 run to put them ahead, 34-18, at the 5:40 mark, before the Gophers really turned it on with a 16-4 run to end the half. At the break, Minnesota led Charleston Southern, 50-22.
The Gophers' 50 first-half points and .571 first-half field goal percentage were season-highs, while Charleston Southern's 22 points in the first half were the least amount of points allowed by the Gopher defense since Jan. 2, when it held Indiana to 17 points.
Things did not get much better for the Buccaneers, who got 17 points from Lakeitha Alston but had 22 turnovers and just 17 field goals on 50 attempts.
Banham paced the Maroon and Gold with 11 points in the opening stanza, while Buford added eight. In all, nine players scored at least four points for Minnesota in the first half.
The home team went on to lead by as many as 33 points in the second half.
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