Banham Named to All-Big Ten First Team

After leading the Minnesota women's basketball team to its best season in four years and claiming the Big Ten Conference regular-season scoring title, sophomore Rachel Banham was named to the All-Big Ten First Team by the league's head coaches, the conference announced Monday.

Banham also earned a spot on the All-Big Ten Second Team by media voters, while fellow team captain Micaëlla Riché was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten by both coaches and media. Rookie Shayne Mullaney also earned postseason accolades, as she was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

Banham was elevated to the first team this season after garnering second-team honors as a rookie. She is the seventh different Minnesota player to earn First Team All-Big Ten recognition and the first to be named to the first team since Emily Fox earned the honor in 2008.

After being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2012, Banham has elevated her game in her second season on the court, averaging 4.9 more points per game and securing career-highs in total points (631), scoring average (21.0), field goals (223), field goal percentage (.443), free throws made (133), free throw percentage (.893), assists (122), blocks (12) and steals (60).

Holding the distinction as the top-scoring sophomore in the country, Banham has notched 20 or more points in 15 games and 30 or more points in five games this season, while also scoring in double-figures in 29 of Minnesota's 30 games. Along with leading the Big Ten in scoring, the guard also ranks in the top-10 in free throw percentage (4th - .893), assist turnover ratio (5th - 1.5), assists (8th - 4.1) and steals (8th - 2.0).

She became the 21st Gopher, and third sophomore, in program history to score 1,000 career points when she nailed a three-pointer in the second half vs. Illinois on Jan. 28. Banham surpassed former Gopher Lindsay Whalen for the program scoring record through a sophomore season when she notched her 1,093rd career point Feb. 7 against Iowa.

Banham currently ranks fourth on Minnesota's career record chart in both scoring average (18.3) and games in double figures (62), while ranking 10th in three-pointers (106) and three-point attempts (279) and 14th in scoring (1,211).

Just hours after being named the Big Ten Women's Basketball Player of the Week for the second time this season, Riché was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten after becoming one of the most improved players in the league as a junior. The forward has more than doubled her point total from a year ago and improved her scoring average by 7.5 points per game from her sophomore year. She has also upped her rebounding average from 4.2 per game in 2011-12, to ranking ninth in the Big Ten with a 7.5 rebounds-per-game average this season.

Riché has posted career-highs in every major statistical category this season and ranks in the top-10 in league standings in three different categories, including second in field goal percentage (.529), eighth in defensive rebounds (5.3) and ninth in total rebounds. Her 158 defensive rebounds rank sixth on Minnesota's single-season record chart.

Mullaney earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team after averaging 6.9 points, 3.0 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game in her first year as a Gopher. She has started 23 games for Minnesota and ranks 14th in the Big Ten in assists per game. Her points per game average is the fifth-best among Big Ten rookies, while her 89 total assists are tied for the most among the league's first years.

The guard is the seventh Gopher to be named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the third-straight selection for Minnesota since 2011.

In addition, senior Leah Cotton was named Minnesota's recipient of the Big Ten's Sportsmanship Award. Recipients are student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, they must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.

The Golden Gophers head out to Hoffman Estates, Ill., for the 2013 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament March 7-10. Minnesota earned the No. 8 seed for the event at Sears Centre Arena and will take on No. 9 seed Ohio State on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CT. Each contest of the tournament will be broadcast live on BTN, with the Championship Game set to air on ESPN2.

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