On the heels of its win over Manhattan, the second-seeded Univeristy of Minnesota women's basketball team will face seventh-seeded Northern Iowa in the WBI Championship Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Williams Arena.
The No. 2-seeded Gophers enter the WBI Championship vs. No. 7-seeded Northern Iowa with an 18-17 record on the season after defeating Manhattan, Charleston Southern and Bradley in the first three rounds of the tournament.
Minnesota's defense is holding teams to a .372 field goal percentage this season, while shooting .414 as a team.
The Gophers have held teams to 60 points or fewer 17 times this season, and to 50 points or fewer seven times, and are only giving up an average of 62.0 points per game.
The Maroon and Gold is outscoring its opponents by an average of 4.7 points per game, as it holds a scoring average of 66.7 points per contest.
Rachel Banham is the Gophers' leading scorer with a per game average of 15.8 points.
Kiara Buford is also averaging double-digit scoring in her senior campaign at 13.6 points per game.
Buford also leads the team in assists (109) and steals (66).
Katie Loberg is averaging a team-high 5.8 rebounds per game, while Banham is close behind with an average of 5.2 points per game.
Scouting Northern Iowa
Northern Iowa eanters the WBI Championship with a 19-14 overall record and earned the No. 7 seed in the West Bracket after posting a 16-13 regular-season record and finishing fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 9-9 clip.
Since losing to Creighton in the first round of the league tournament, the Panthers have defeated Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State and Seattle to earn their way into the WBI Championship.
UNI is outscoring its opponents by an average of 0.9 points per game and is also averaging 65.2 points per contest.
The Panthers have a +3.0 turnover margin.
Katelin Oney paces Northern Iowa in scoring with a scoring average of 13.5 points per contest, while K.K. Armstrong follows closely behind with an average of 13.4 points per game.
Armstrong is also the team-leader in assists (134) and steals (73).
Amber Kirschbaum is pulling down a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game.
The Gophers are a perfect 7-0 in the all-time series vs. Northern Iowa, with their last win coming on Nov. 13, 2007. Emily Fox and Brittany McCoy tallied 15 and 14 points, respectively, to lead Minnesota to the 68-57 victory on the road.
The last time the two teams met at Williams Arena was in the Gophers' season-opener on Nov. 10, 2006. The Maroon and Gold won the contest, 75-63, behind 15 points from Katie Ohm.
Last Time Out
Minnesota used a 19-8 run in the final minutes of the second half to defeat eighth-seeded Manhattan, 67-54, Friday night in front of the home crowd at Williams Arena.
Katie Loberg led four Gophers in double-figures with 15 points, while Rachel Banham chipped in 14 points. Kiara Buford and Micaëlla Riché each added 10 points apiece.
Loberg and Kionna Kellogg each pulled down a team-high five rebounds, while Buford dished out a team-high six assists and Banham tallied a career-best five steals. Leah Cotton added five assists and Brianna Mastey contributed six points, four rebounds and three steals.
Both teams had to work hard for their points, as there were only six free throws attempted in the entire contest. To top it off, all six attempts were made by the Gophers, as they held Manhattan without a free throw and committed a season-low six personal fouls.
The six trips to the foul line were a season-low for the Maroon and Gold, but the squad made all of them count by connecting on all six attempts.
The Gophers also had 16 steals in the win, which tied its second-best mark this season. Thanks to those 16 steals, the home team scored 33 points off of turnovers, nearly half of its total points in the contest.
Offensively, the Minnesota shot .537 (29-54), which was its second-best mark of the season and marked its fifth-straight contest shooting .475 or better.