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Behind a dazzling second-half performance from sophomore Rachel Banham, the University of Minnesota (11-3) women's basketball team stunned visiting Creighton (8-3) by overcoming a 20-point deficit to defeat the Bluejays, 88-81, in double overtime Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.
After scoring only six points in the first half, Banham concluded the game with career-highs of 39 points on 13-25 shooting and five steals, while adding four assists. She also connected on all 13 of her free throw attempts.
Junior Micaëlla Riché also turned up her performance following the halftime break, as she finished the contest with 23 points and 10 rebounds for her third-career double-double, after posting two points and three rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play.
Kionna Kellogg and Shayne Mullaney each contributed eight points in the win, with Kellogg adding five rebounds and Mullaney notching six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Kayla Hirt dished out a career-best six assists to go along with five points and three rebounds.
The Golden Gophers shot .452 (33-73) in the contest, which included a .538 (14-26) mark in the second half and a .643 (9-14) mark in the first overtime. The home team was nearly flawless from the free throw line, draining 21 of its 22 attempts.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, but a three-pointer from the Bluejays put the visitors on top of the Gophers for the first time at 17:07. Creighton extended its lead to 10 points at 14:34 and forced the home team to take a timeout.
The Maroon and Gold would fall behind by as many as 20 points in the stanza, but closed the gap to 15 points, 38-23, just before halftime on a three-pointer from Bailey and a last-second basket from Mullaney.
Minnesota shot .303 (10-33) in the half compared to .552 (16-29) for the Bluejays, which included 24 points in the paint and 17 points from their bench.
Minnesota used six points from Riché in the opening minutes of the second half to pull within 11 points of the Bluejays, 31-42, at the 15:48 mark, but Creighton continued to shoot well from the floor to go on a 5-0 run and extend its lead back to 16 points.
A successful three-point play from Banham at 6:42 pulled the Gophers to within 14 points, before a steal from the sophomore and a layup from Kellogg at 5:46 cut Creighton's lead to 12 points. Banham continued to take the game into her own hands with a jumper in the paint, which made the score, 44-54, with 3:34 to play.
Minnesota kept chipping away at Creighton's lead, with Banham hitting a layup with 43 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 58-58. The Gophers had a chance to win the game in regulation, but couldn't get a shot to fall, sending the game into overtime.
In the second half, the Gophers scored 18 points off of 12 Creighton turnovers, while getting 18 points and three steals from Banham, and 11 points and four rebounds from Riché. Beginning at the 9:20 mark, Minnesota used a 25-6 run to close the gap and tie the game.
Creighton scored first in overtime with a pair of free throws, but Banham sank two free throws of her own to knot the score once again. The sophomore would score seven more points in the first overtime to give Minnesota an eight-point cushion, but the Bluejays drained three three-pointers, including one with eight seconds on the clock, during their 11-3 run to send the game into its second overtime with the score tied, 72-72.
Banham and Riché combined to score 12 of Minnesota's 16 points in the second overtime to seal the come-from-behind victory for the home team.
The Gophers open Big Ten Conference play next week when they travel to Michigan State Thursday for a 6:00 p.m. contest. Minnesota will then travel to Madison to take on Wisconsin Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.
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