Despite getting double-digit scoring performances from Rachel Banham, Sari Noga and Kayla Hirt, the University of Minnesota (6-2) women's basketball team dropped its ACC/Big Ten Challenge game to Virginia (5-1), 68-90, Thursday night at Williams Arena.
Banham led the trio with 21 points and six assists, marking her third-straight 20-point outing, while Noga added 14 points on 5-6 shooting from the field. The junior hit a career-high four three-pointers and also paced the Gophers on the boards with nine rebounds, just missing her first career double-double.
Hirt rounded out the trio by matching her career-high with 14 points, and was second behind Noga in rebounds with seven. Hirt scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half and had a 6-8 performance from the free throw line. Freshman Shayne Mullaneyjust missed her first double-digit outing of the year as she notched a career-high nine points in 31 minutes.
After falling down 4-0 to open the contest, Minnesota rattled off a 16-2 run, which included 14 unanswered points, four three-pointers and a pair of jumpers. Noga accounted for six points and Banham and Mullaney each had five points during the stretch to give the Gophers a 16-6 lead with 15:25 to play in the half.
Virginia would come back to take a two-point lead, 20-18, at the 11:40 mark following a 14-2 run of its own, but Noga connected on another three-pointer to give the advantage back to the home team, 21-20.
The Cavaliers used an 8-2 run to once again take the lead from the Gophers, 29-23, with 8:42 to play in the half and went on to take 46-34 lead at halftime.
Foul trouble hindered the Gophers in the first half, as they sent Virginia to the line 15 times in the stanza. Two different players headed into the locker room with three fouls, while two more Gophers ended the half with two. The Maroon and Gold didn't shoot its first free throw of the game, however, until there was less than four minutes remaining on the clock and only had five attempts from the line, connecting on two.
Banham was Minnesota's top scorer through the first 20 minutes of play with 12 points on 5-13 shooting, while Noga was close behind with 11 points on 4-4 shooting, which included three three-pointers. Noga also paced the Gophers on the boards, pulling down five rebounds, all on the offensive end.
Minnesota would trail by as many as 17 points early in the second half, but thanks to five points from Banham and two points from Mullaney the Gophers managed to make it a 10-point game, 41-51, at the 17:08 mark. That would be as close as the home team would get to the Cavaliers, as the visitors pulled away for the victory, 90-68.
The Gophers will travel to Lawrence, Kan., Sunday to take on No. 20/20 Kansas in their first and only non-conference road test of the season. Tip off from Allen Fieldhouse is set for 2:00 p.m.