The University of Minnesota women's basketball team is set to host No. 17/20 Purdue in a Big Ten Conference rematch Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Williams Arena. Just two weeks ago, the Boilermakers came from behind to edge the Gophers, 57-53, in the teams' league-opener at Mackey Arena.
Promotion Alzheimer's Awareness Night
Fans are encouraged to wear purple to Thursday's contest vs. Purude in support of Tennessee head women's basketball coach Pat Summitt's courage in sharing her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, while also raising awareness of the disease.
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Minnesota - 10-7 Overall, 2-1 Big Ten
Purdue - 13-3 Overall, 3-0 Big Ten
Williams Arena (14,625)
Minnesota trails Purdue, 17-38
The Gophers are off to a 2-1 start in Big Ten Conference play and sit at 10-7 overall following their pair of victories vs. Indiana and Northwestern last week.
Through three league contests, the Maroon and Gold is off to its best start since the 2009-10 season when it also opened conference play with a 2-1 record.
Minnesota's only league defeat this season was a four-point loss on the road at then-No. 20/21 Purdue.
With their pair of wins last week, the Gophers jumped from No. 131 to No. 95 in the latest NCAA Women's Basketball RPI, an improvement of 36 spots.
Freshman Rachel Banham is Minnesota's leading scorer, averaging 15.0 points per game on the season and ranks fourth in league-only contests with an average of 20.7 points per game. The rookie is also the Gophers' second-leading rebounder, averaging 5.5 per game, and ranks second in assists (50) and steals (29).
Kiara Buford ranks second on the squad with a scoring average of 13.9 points per game and leads the Maroon and Gold in assists (59) and steals (37).
On the glass, junior Katie Loberg is averaging a team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game overall, while she and Banham are tied for Minnesota's best mark in Big Ten games with 7.3 boards per game.
Scouting No. 17/20 Purdue
Purdue is one of only three teams in the Big Ten to boast an unbeaten record in conference play, entering Thursday's contest with a 3-0 league mark and a 13-3 overall clip, having won six-straight games.
The Boilermakers are ranked No. 17 in the latest AP Top 25 Poll with 344 points. The ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll has Purdue ranked No. 20 with 172 points.
On the defensive side of the ball, Purdue ranks first in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing only 52.3 points per game, while also leading the league in blocked shots (6.2) and steals (10.6). The squad is forcing its opponents to turn over the ball an average of 21.8 times per game.
Brittany Rayburn paces the Boilermakers with a scoring average of 13.7 points per game overall, while KK Houser has stepped up for the team in Big Ten contests with a team-leading scoring average of 16.0 points per game.
Houser also leads the team in all games with 53 assists and 43 steals.
Sam Ostarello has pulled down a team-best 7.7 rebounds per game and boasts team-highs with 25 blocks and a .479 field goal percentage.
The Gophers trail the Boilermakers 17-38 in the all-time series.
Minnesota holds an 11-16 record against Purdue when playing on its home court in Minneapolis.
Just two weeks ago, the Gophers fell short of upsetting Purdue in a 57-53 loss at Mackey Arena.
Minnesota led the contest continually for 20 minutes and 44 seconds, before the home squad evened the game with 3:32 to play and eventually sealed the come-from-behind victory.
The Gophers were led in scoring by Rachel Banham, who scored a game-high 15 points in her Big Ten debut. Junior Leah Cotton also scored in double-figures with 11 points to go along with four assists and a steal.
Katie Loberg matched her career-high with 13 rebounds to lead all players in the contest, and added eight points and a block.
The Maroon and Gold fell to the Boilermakers, 50-60, in the teams' last meeting at Williams Arena in 2010-11 despite getting a career-high 17 points from Brianna Mastey. The guard was 6-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the contest.
The last time the Gophers defeated Purdue was a 74-40 victory at Williams Arena on Jan. 14, 2010.
Minnesota vs. Ranked Opponents
Against ranked teams, the Gophers are 27-54 all-time and 18-41 under head coach Pam Borton.
The last time the Gophers defeated a ranked team was March 22, 2009, when they beat No. 23/20 Notre Dame, 79-71, in South Bend., Ind., in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota last defeated a ranked team at Williams Arena on Jan. 24, 2008, when they took down No. 15/15 Ohio State, 79-70, behind Leslie Knight's career-high 33 points.
Last Time Out
Rachel Banham scored a career-high 26 points and added eight rebounds as Minnesota claimed its first true road victory of the year, 68-60, at Northwestern Jan. 5 in Big Ten action from Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Along with being the first true road win for the Gophers in 2011-12, the victory was also the first at Welsh-Ryan Arena since Jan. 11, 2007.
Banham notched 17 points in the second half alone, which included 10 points from the free throw line and five critical points in the waning seconds of the contest. The rookie finished the game 7-for-15 from the field and 2-for-3 from three-point range to improve her three-point field goal percentage to .444 overall for the season.
Kiara Buford tallied 19 points for the second-straight contest after scoring 17 points in the first half. The guard was 4-of-6 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arch, and 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the opening stanza.
Katie Loberg had eight points, while Brianna Mastey and Amber Dvorak chipped in six points and five points, respectively. Jackie Voigt led all players with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Racking Up Big Ten Accolades
Rachel Banham swept the Big Ten Women's Basketball weekly awards Monday, as she was named the league's Player and Freshman of the Week.
Banham earned her first career Big Ten Player of the Week honor and third Freshman of the Week accolade by averaging 23.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while shooting 87.5 percent (7-for-8) from three-point range in the pair of league victories.
The rookie posted her first career double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and connected on all five three-point tries, in the Gophers' win over Indiana.
She poured in a career-best 26 points with eight rebounds and three assists, also going 2-for-3 from behind the arc, to help Minnesota to a road win at Northwestern.
In conference-only contests, the guard currently leads all Big Ten competitors in three-point field goal percentage (.750) and ranks fourth in scoring (20.7) and three-point field goals made (3.0). Banham also ranks sixth in defensive rebounds (6.3) and is tied for 11th in rebounding (7.3).
In all games played, the rookie is ranks second in three-point field goal percentage (.444) and is tied with Northwestern's Morgan Jones for 10th in scoring (15.0).
The last Gopher to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors was Ashley Ellis-Milan, who earned the distinction on Jan. 20, 2009.
Banham previously earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades on Dec. 26 and Dec. 12.
.400 is the Magic Number
The Golden Gophers are a flawless 9-0 when shooting .400 or better this season.
In those contests, Minnesota averaged a .453 (243-536) shooting percentage, which included a season-high .533 mark vs. Harvard.
The Maroon and Gold outscored its opponents, 671-460, and held its opposition to a .327 shooting percentage in those contests.
Shooting the 3
After struggling from beyond the arch in the non-conference portion of its schedule, Minnesota has turned it on in Big Ten play. The Gophers have shot .500 or better from three-point range in all three of its league contests, which included a season-best .636 percentage vs. Indiana.
Rachel Banham has been the Maroon and Gold's biggest spark, connecting on nine of her 12 attempts from beyond the arch to boast a Big Ten-leading .750 three-point field goal percentage in conference contests.
Banham was 5-for-5 from three-point range in the Gophers' route of Indiana at Williams Arena Jan. 2 and 2-for-3 at Northwestern.
Two Away from No. 12
With 1,280 career points, senior Kiara Buford ranks No. 13 on Minnesota's career scoring register.
The spot was previously occupied by Angie Iverson, who totaled 1,162 points from 1994-98.
Buford needs only two points in Thursday's contest vs. Purdue to overtake the No. 12 spot from Ashley Ellis-Milan, who tallied 1,281 points from 2006-10.
To break into Minnesota's all-time top 10 for scoring, the senior needs 66 points.
Marty Dahlen currently ranks 10th on the list with 1,345 points from 1978-82.
Lindsay Whalen ranks first in scoring with 2,285 career points from 2000-04.