Gophers Take Down NJIT in Final Non-Conference Contest

Go Gophers! Freshman Rachel Banham led the Gophers in scoring Friday night vs. NJIT.
Go Gophers!
Freshman Rachel Banham led the Gophers in scoring Friday night vs. NJIT.
Go Gophers!

Dec. 23, 2011

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The University of Minnesota (8-6) women's basketball team dominated NJIT (5-6) on both ends of the floor and got a career-high 20 points to go along with a game-best seven rebounds and four assists from freshman Rachel Banham to post a 71-47 victory in its non-conference finale Friday evening at Williams Arena.

Along with Banham, senior Kiara Buford also scored in double-figures for the Golden Gophers with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, extending her streak of double-digit performances to a Big Ten-leading 14 games. The guard has tallied 10 or more points in each of Minnesota's games this season.

Junior Katie Loberg added 10 points, matched the game-high with seven rebounds and had two blocks and two steals. Micaëlla Riché added nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and five rebounds, while Leah Cotton scored seven points and grabbed four boards. Jackie Voigt contributed six points and four rebounds in the winning effort.

As a team, the Maroon and Gold shot .446 from the floor, which included a .529 shooting percentage in the first half, and gave NJIT all it could handle defensively and on the boards. The Gophers held the Highlanders to a .316 shooting percentage and forced 15 turnovers, while they out-rebounded the visitors, 47-34.

All 13 players on Minnesota's active roster saw action on the floor in the contest, with 11 pulling down at least one rebound.

Banham opened the contest with a three-pointer from the corner and the Gophers never looked back, holding its lead for the remainder of the contest.

The rookie posted 14 of her 20 total points in the opening stanza and led the home team with five rebounds heading into the locker room. Buford added eight points and three rebounds, while Loberg tallied six points and three boards.

The Highlanders pulled within one point of the Gophers early, 8-7, but a basket by Cotton and a three-pointer by Buford extended the Gophers lead to six points, 13-7, and ignited a 23-3 run by the home team, in which it held NJIT scoreless for nearly six minutes. The Maroon and Gold would head into halftime with a 42-23 advantage.

Minnesota continued to dominate in the second half, opening the stanza on 20-2 run in which the defense allowed only two points through the first 10:04 out of the locker room.

The squad would go on to lead by as many as 37 points in the in the final 20 minutes of play and would go on to post the 71-47 victory to finish the non-conference portion of its schedule with an 8-6 record.

Following a short holiday break, the Gophers open Big Ten play Dec. 30 on the road vs. No. 20/21 Purdue. Game time for the league match-up is set for 6:00 p.m.

-UM-