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Micaëlla Riché and Rachel Banhamcombined to score 63 points to lead the University of Minnesota (1-0) women's basketball team to a, 87-83, victory over Washington State (0-1) in double overtime Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the Best Buy Classic at Williams Arena.
The Golden Gophers will play Villanova (1-0) in Sunday's Best Buy Classic Championship game at 1:00 p.m. The Wildcats defeated South Dakota State (0-1), 71-47, in Saturday's semifinal. The Jackrabbits and the Cougars will face off in the consolation game at 11:00 a.m.
Banham paced the Golden Gophers with a career-high 34 points, going a flawless 13-for-13 from the free throw line to set a career-high for free throws made in a game and tied the program-record for free throw percentage in a game (1.000). Banham put on a show in the pair of overtime periods, as the sophomore scored 13 of the Gophers' 21 points.
Riché added career-highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds to post the second double-double of her career, while also adding career-highs with 10 field goals on 17 attempts and nine free throws on 15 attempts in 49 minutes played.
As a team, Minnesota shot .414 (24-58) from the floor, which included a .583 (7-12) field goal percentage in overtime, and Washington State shot .425 (31-73).
The Gophers jumped out to a nine-point lead early in the second half and maintained their advantage for the majority of the half. Washington State cut the lead to one point twice with less than eight minutes to play and evened the score at 52-52 at 4:49, but Banham had an answer once again, draining a jumper to kill the Cougars' momentum.
Though Minnesota remained on top of Washington State for most of the half, but the Cougars continued to hang within a couple possessions of the Gophers, before draining a three-pointer with 0:07 seconds to play to even the game at 66-66, sending the game into overtime.
Washington State jumped out to a six-point lead in the first overtime, but Minnesota answered with a 7-0 run to take a one-point lead with 0:56 seconds to play. Three points from the Cougars were matched by two free throws from Banham and the game would move into a second overtime with the score, 75-75.
The Gophers went up by four just under two minutes into the fourth period, but Washington State hit a three-pointer and a field goal to take a one-point lead. From that point, Minnesota put together a 9-3 run to get the hard-fought victory.
Neither team could get much going offensively in the first half, with Minnesota shooting just .320 from the field and Washington State shooting just .296 from the floor. Turnovers were also a significant thorn in the Gophers' side in the opening half, as their 14 miscues turned into seven points for the Cougars.
Minnesota led by one point, 18-17, with 1:35 to play in the half, but back-to-back three-pointers from Banham and a last-second layup by Mikayla Bailey capped off an 8-2 run and gave Minnesota a 26-19 lead at the half. Banham led the Gophers with eight points in the opening stanza, while Leah Cotton added six points and a team-best six rebounds.
It was the first double-overtime game for Minnesota since a double-overtime victory over Michigan at the Barn on Feb. 24, 2011. The Gophers are now 2-2 all-time in double-overtime contests.
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