2011-12 Review: Top Victories The Gophers' top-five victories of the season.
April 18, 2012
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team recorded some impressive victories during the 2011-12 campaign, which included wins over Top-25 opponents, last-second victories and a Women's Basketball Invitational title.
With 19 wins on the year, the Gophers tallied their most victories in three years and also posted their first Big Ten Tournament win since 2007. Thanks to its WBI crown, the Maroon and Gold was one of few teams in the country to end its season on a four-game winning streak and won seven of its last 10 contests to conclude the year. Let's take a look back at the team's top five victories of the season.
In just the seventh game of her collegiate career, Rachel Banham showed a glimpse of what was to come in her record-breaking rookie year, as she hit a jumper in the paint with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock to lift the Gophers to a victory over Virginia Tech, 65-64, at the St. Mary's Concord Hilton Tournament. The two squads knotted the score multiple times down the stretch, but a free throw by the Hokies' Monet Tellier gave Virginia Tech a 64-63 advantage with just nine seconds remaining in the contest. Banham stayed composed and led the Gophers down the court, pulling up with 0.6 second to play to sink the game-winner for Minnesota. Katie Loberg matched her career-high with 20 points, which included an 8-for-10 outing from the free throw line, and added seven rebounds to pace the Gophers. Along with Loberg, Banham and Kiara Buford also scored in double-figures, recording with each player scoring 15 points. Loberg was named to the all-tournament team after racking up 35 points and 20 rebounds over the course of the event.
4. Strong Second Half Leads Gophers to WBI Championship Minnesota 88, Northern Iowa 64 Photo Gallery
The Gophers put together a strong second half vs. Northern Iowa in the WBI Championship Game to claim the postseason title and end the year with a bang. After trailing by as many as 13 points in the early minutes of the second stanza, Minnesota put together a 52-25 run to end the contest and, for the first time all season, come back from a halftime deficit. The Gophers shot a season-high .618 from the floor, which included a season-best .677 shooting percentage in the final 20 minutes of play. The efficient shooting culminated in 56 second-half points, its most in a single half all year. Led by Rachel Banham's 26 points, Minnesota had five players score in double figures for the first time since Dec. 16, 2009. The squad's four seniors were taken off of the floor to a standing ovation by the home crowd at Williams Arena.
Minnesota was able to stave off a comeback by No. 15 Nebraska as it recorded its second win over a nationally-ranked opponent this season, 64-58, at Williams Arena. The Gophers held a, 40-24, lead over the Huskers at the 17:00 mark of the second half, but Nebraska managed to tie the game, 58-58, with just over three minutes to play. An offensive rebound and a putback by Kionna Kellogg gave Minnesota a 60-58 advantage with a minute on the clock, before Brianna Mastey pulled down a key offensive rebound in the waning seconds of the game, which eventually led to the Cornhuskers sending Rachel Banham to the free throw line. The rookie connected on both attempts to make it a two-possession game with just 15.3 seconds on the clock. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper attempted a deep three-pointer with time running out, but Mastey once again was clutch on the boards as she pulled down the defensive rebound and made a pair of free throws to seal the victory for the Gophers in her first start of the year.
Behind a 19-point performance from Kiara Buford, the Gophers defeated Wisconsin, 81-49, in the opening round of the Big Ten Conference Women's Basketball Tournament to advance to the quarterfinals for the ninth time in program history. Minnesota's 32-point margin of victory was the third largest in Big Ten Tournament history and the largest in 12 years. It was Minnesota's first win in the league tournament since 2007, and its fifth win at the event overall, while it also snapped its six-game losing streak against Wisconsin dating back to Jan. 7, 2008. Four Gophers scored in double figures as Minnesota shot .500 from the floor. Of its 81 total points, 50 came from inside the paint and 23 were scored off Wisconsin turnovers. The Gophers scored 20 second-chance points, 12 fast break points and outscored the Badgers' bench, 27-12. Minnesota hit its stride in the opening game of the league tournament, which would lead it to the WBI Championship.
Minnesota handed No. 9 Ohio State just its second loss of the season in front of a Williams Arena crowd of 5,626 and a national audience on Big Ten Network on Jan. 29, with a quartet of Gophers scoring in double-digits. It was the first time Minnesota defeated a ranked opponent since March 22, 2009, and its first win over a top-10 team since Jan. 15, 2006, while it was the first time the squad beat a ranked team at Williams Arena since clinching a 79-70 win over the Buckeyes on Jan. 24, 2008. Rachel Banham was forced to sit out a large portion of the second half after picking up her fourth foul with 13:15 to play in the stanza, but still finished the contest with a team-best 20 points. Kiara Buford added 15 points, while Katie Loberg and Kionna Kellogg chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively. As a team, the Gophers shot a .500 from the field, which included a 6-for-10 outing from three-point range, while also connecting on 16 of their 17 free throw attempts.