Dec. 29, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS - Amanda Zahui B took control of the paint in the opening minutes of Minnesota's 79-43 win over Oakland on Sunday afternoon and refused to cede her position, racking up 25 points (tying her career best) and grabbing 16 rebounds, both game-highs. While the redshirt freshman overwhelmed the Golden Grizzlies inside, teammates Micaella Riche (12 points on 5-for-8 shooting), Kayla Hirt (8 points, 4 rebounds) and Rachel Banham (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) also provided valuable production for the Gophers as the team completed its non-conference schedule on a positive note. In fact, the Gophers performance personified a team victory, with all 10 Gophers scoring in the win.
Zahui and Riche established Minnesota's inside offense by each converting a pair of opportunities near the rim to account for the Gophers first 8 points. That strong start propelled Minnesota to a 36-16 advantage in points in the paint by game's end, with the Gophers shooting 18-for-28 inside compared to Oakland's 8-for-28.
Despite struggling to match Minnesota's presence inside, the Grizzlies kept the score close in the game's first 12 minutes. Turnovers, a problem throughout the game for Oakland, and poor shooting began to catch up with the visitors late in the first half and ultimately fueled a 20-4 run for the Gophers, a run which buried Oakland beneath a deficit from which it could not recover.
The Gophers suffocated Oakland's offense with a strong defensive performance in the first half, allowing only 20 points on 25 percent shooting and forcing 15 turnovers. Minnesota maintained its intensity for the game's final 20 minutes to effectively extinguish any Oakland hope for a comeback victory. While holding the Grizzlies to just 28.1 percent shooting, including a meager 19 percent on threes, Minnesota continued to pour in points on the offensive end, pairing a 39-point first half with a 40-point second half. The Gophers built upon a 19-point halftime lead and stretched it to as many as 36 in the game's final seconds.
The victory improves Minnesota's record to 10-3 this season as it enters Big Ten play. The Gophers will open this year's conference schedule at home against Michigan State on January 4.
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