Feb. 4, 2012
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team is set for a Big Ten Conference showdown with No. 19/21 Penn State Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena. The league contest is scheduled to tip off at 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 5
19/21 Penn State at Minnesota- 2:00 p.m. CT
KBEM Jazz 88.5 FM
Play-by-Play - Corbu Stathes
Analyst - Lynnette Sjoquist
Gametracker via Gophersports.com
Minnesota - 12-12 Overall, 4-6 Big Ten
Penn State - 17-5 Overall, 7-3 Big Ten
Williams Arena (14,625)
Minnesota trails Penn State, 11-22
The Gophers are coming off a 72-67 loss to Illinois heading into Sunday's contest. Minnesota currently sits in a tie with Wisconsin for eighth in Big Ten Conference standings with a 4-6 league record and a 12-12 overall clip.
The Maroon and Gold has lost three of its last four contests, but its win was an impressive on over No. 9/9 Ohio State last week.
The Gophers have picked up nine of their wins this season at Williams Arena.
Minnesota has three players with double-digit scoring averages. Rachel Banham leads the team with a scoring average of 15.8 points per game, while senior Kiara Buford and junior Katie Loberg are averaging 13.9 and 10.2 points per game, respectively.
Banham and Buford also average double-digit points in Big Ten Conference play. Banham ranks fifth in league standings with 18.7 points per game and Buford is tied for 14th in the rankings with 14.1 points per game.
Banham also leads the squad in field goals (141), three-point field goals (39) and three-point field goal percentage (.464), while Buford is the team-leader in free throws (81), assists (78) and steals (46).
Loberg ranks first on the team and seventh in the league with 7.0 rebounds per game overall, while sitting at No. 16 in league-only games with a 6.4 rebounds-per-game average.
Scouting No. 19/21 Penn State
The Nittany Lions make the trip to Minneapolis ranked 19th in this weeks AP Poll and 21st in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Penn State currently sits in the fourth spot in league standings with a 7-3 Big Ten record and a 17-5 overall mark following a 76-44 win vs. Indiana Thursday in University Park, Pa.
Previous to its win vs. the Hoosiers, Penn State lost at Michigan State on Jan. 29 to put an end to its five-game winning streak.
Maggie Lucas is the Nittany Lions' leading scorer on the year, boasting a scoring average of 20.0 points per game, while Alex Bentley follows close behind with an 14.4 points-per-game average.
Nikki Greene paces Penn State in rebounding average at 8.0 boards per game, good for third in conference standings, and also leads the team in total blocks with 29 on the season.
Thanks to Lucas, the Nittany Lions rank second in the Big Ten Conference standings with a 76.1 points-per-game average. The squad also is second in the league with a +16.0 scoring margin.
Bentley is the team-leader with 116 assists and 65 steals, while she also averages 3.1 points rebounds overall.
In the all-time series, the Gophers trail the Nittany Lions, 11-22, which includes an 8-8 home clip, a 3-13 road record and a 0-1 neutral site mark.
Minnesota has won 10 of its last 15 meetings with Penn State, but has dropped its last two matchups with the squad.
Minnesota last defeated Penn State on Feb. 11, 2010 in University Park, Penn. In the 59-52 victory, Brittany McCoy made 11-of-12 free throws and scored a game-high 14 points to help the Gophers shoot an impressive 90.3 percent as a team from the foul line, converting 28 of 31 attempts.
The last time the Gophers took down the Nittany Lions in Minneapolis was on Dec. 6, 2009. Kiara Buford scored 15 points to lead Minnesota to a 56-48 victory in its 2009-10 Big Ten opener.
Last Time Out
Kiara Buford, Rachel Banham and Katie Loberg combined for 59 points, but it was not enough as Minnesota was tripped up at Illinois, 72-67, Thursday night at Assembly Hall.
Buford led all players with 26 points, as she made 9-of-14 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.
Banham added 18 points and six rebounds against the Illini, while Loberg chipped in 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Along with Banham, Kionna Kellogg tied for the team lead with six rebounds and added four points.
Minnesota shot .464 in the contest, including an impressive .548 in the second half, but Illinois finished the contest with a .517 shooting percentage and outshot the Gophers in the second stanza with a .577 mark.
It was the first time this season the Maroon and Gold lost a game when shooting over .400, but the Gophers are yet to come out victorious when trailing at halftime, holding a 0-10 record.
Up Next for the Gophers
Minnesota will hit the road once again for a Big Ten Conference contest at Iowa on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7:00 p.m.
The Gophers are 22-44 all-time when facing the Hawkeyes, while they also carry a 8-24 record against Iowa in Iowa City, a 13-17 clip in Minneapolis and a 1-3 neutral-site mark.
The Hawkeyes have been victorious in the teams' last three meetings.
The Maroon and Gold's last victory vs. Iowa, a 72-69 overtime triumph, came on Jan. 3, 2010 at Williams Arena.
The last time Minnesota defeated the Hawkeyes on the road was another overtime victory, 80-78, on Jan. 25, 2007.
Five-Time Freshman of the Week
Rachel Banham earned her fifth Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor Tuesday morning following a pair of stellar performances vs. Wisconsin and No. 9 Ohio State last week.
The rookie averaged 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.5 assists, while shooting 85.7 percent from three-point range for the Gophers last week.
Banham scored 19 points, while shooting 3-for-3 from long range, with four rebounds and four steals against Wisconsin on Thursday.
She followed that performance by posting a team-high 20 points, and converting on 75 percent (3-for-4) of her shots from beyond the arch, to lead Minnesota to a victory over No. 9 Ohio State on Sunday.
Banham's five Freshman of the Week selections are the third-most in the award's history, trailing only Purdue's Courtney Moses, who was honored six times last season, and Penn State's Maggie Lucas, who garnered the honor eight times a year ago.
The Big Ten began recognizing a Freshman of the Week during the 2009-10 season.
The guard was also named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Dec. 12, Dec. 26, Jan. 9 and Jan. 17.
She earned the Big Ten Player of the Week award on Jan. 9.
In the Top 10
With 26 points vs. Illinois Thursday night, Kiara Buford surpassed Debbie Hunter to become Minnesota's ninth-highest scorer all-time with 1,376 career points.
She is the first player to move into the top-10 since Emily Fox finished her career ranked No. 7 with 1,449 career points from 2005-09.
With a scoring average of 13.9 points per game, Buford is on pace to pass Carol Peterka, who scored 1,441 points from 1982-86, for the No. 8 spot, while she also has a chance to catch Fox for the seventh-best scoring total in program history.
The guard also ranks fifth all-time at Minnesota with 122 three-point field goals and 10th with 288 free throws and 54 blocks.
Buford needs 16 assists and seven steals to crack the career top-10 in each category.
Game Preview: Iowa
The Gophers and Hawkeyes' only meeting of the season will take place in Iowa Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m.
Gophers Rally Behind Wagner, Bell In Win
Trio of Gophers scored double digits in the Gophers 78-50 win over the Illini.
Courtside with Jasmine Brunson
GopherSports.com spoke with the freshman point guard as spring semester started at the U of M.