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The University of Minnesota (10-3) women's basketball team used an impressive first half and 26 points from sophomore Rachel Banham to defeat Northern Iowa (4-7), 86-43, Friday night in non-conference action at Williams Arena. Banham shot 10-19 from the floor, had five rebounds, four steals and four assists in the win.
Banham was one of four players to score in double-figures for the Golden Gophers, as freshman Shayne Mullaney posted 17 points, junior Sari Noga added 12 points and redshirt freshman Kayla Hirt recorded her first-career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
It was the second-straight double-digit scoring performance for Mullaney, who was 7-12 from the floor and added a career-high eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Overall, the Golden Gophers posted a .525 (32-61) field goal percentage, scored 46 points in the paint, 32 points off of 22 Panther turnovers and 20 fast break points. Minnesota out-rebounded UNI, 44-28, and had 11 steals and 13 assists.
Minnesota hit its stride early in the contest, as it jumped out to a 10-point lead, 13-3, at the 16-minute mark, before stretching its lead to 14 points, 20-6, less than three minutes later. Banham reached the double-digit scoring mark just six minutes and 30 seconds into the contest and went on to post 21 points in the first half to pace the Gophers offensively.
Minnesota put together some dramatic scoring runs in the opening half, including a 30-3 run which started at the 10:45 mark and sent the Gophers into halftime with a 50-16 lead.
As a team, the Maroon and Gold notched a .656 (21-32) shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes of play, scoring 28 points in the paint and 21 points off 14 UNI turnovers. Minnesota also notched 18 fast-break points in the first half and held the Panthers to only six field goals.
After going up by 35 points in the opening minutes of the second half, Minnesota maintained a sizeable lead, including 46 points at 00:36, to cruise to an 86-43 victory.
The Gophers will close out their non-conference schedule at home on Dec. 30, taking on Creighton in a 7:00 p.m. contest.
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The forward from Hungary will have three years of eligibility starting in 2016-17.
Banham Named B1G Athlete of the Year
The senior guard was chosen from nominees representing all 14 conference schools.
Mable, Banham NCAA Woman of the Year Nominees
Minnesota's two nominees will be in consideration for the award's 26th presentation since its inception.