May 1, 2012
The 2011-12 women's basketball season was full of memorable moments, none of which could possibly stick in our minds without some outstanding individuals performances from the Gophers. Some players put up big offensive numbers, while others were able to pull down critical rebounds or dish out a career-high in assists.
Here is a look at the top individual performances of the year (in no particular order):
Kiara Buford vs. Michigan State | Highlights
Buford posted a game-high 22 points and added five rebounds in the Gophers' 71-65 win vs. Michigan State at Williams Arena. The senior was 6-of-11 from the field and connected on 10 of her career-high 14 attempts from the free throw line to lead her squad to its first win vs. the Spartans since the 2008-09 season. The victory also handed the Spartans back-to-back losses for the first time since January 2010.
Rachel Banham vs. No. 15 Nebraska
Banham led all scorers in Minnesota's win vs. No. 15 Nebraska with 21 points, as she shot 8-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, while adding four rebounds, three steals and two assists. The rookie's pair of free throws in the final seconds of the contest put the Maroon and Gold ahead by two possessions.
Katie Loberg vs. Virginia Tech
Loberg matched her career-high when she scored 20 points in the Gophers' last-second victory vs. Virginia Tech at the St. Mary's Concord Hilton Tournament. The junior forward was 6-of-11 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the free throw line. If that wasn't enough, Loberg also pulled down seven rebounds in the winning effort. Loberg was named to all-tournament team after racking up 35 points and 20 rebounds over the course of the event.
Rachel Banham vs. No. 9 Ohio State | Highlights
Banham was instrumental in Minnesota's biggest win of the year, as she notched a team-best 20 points in the Gophers' 76-65 victory over No. 9 Ohio State. Despite being forced to sit out a large portion of the second half after picking up her fourth foul, the freshman still managed to score 12 points in the stanza. She was 5-for-8 from the floor, 3-for-4 from beyond the arch and a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line overall in the contest.
Micaëlla Riché vs. Wisconsin
In just her second start of the season, Riché poured in 10 points and pulled down eight rebounds in Minnesota's victory vs. Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The sophomore connected on all three of her attempts from the field and added a perfect 4-for-4 performance from the free throw line. Riché scored four points in the late minutes of the contest to give the Maroon and Gold a 39-point advantage over the Border Battle rivals, the team's largest of the night.
Rachel Banham vs. Indiana
Banham posted her first-career double-double after scoring 21 points and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds in the Gophers' blowout victory vs. Indiana in their Big Ten Conference home-opener. The rookie was a flawless 5-of-5 from three point range in the contest, with all 15 of her first-half points coming from beyond the arch. Her second three-pointer of the contest ignited a 33-8 run by Minnesota that would put it ahead by a program-record 31 points at the half.
Kionna Kellogg posted a double-double vs. Alcorn State.
Kionna Kellogg vs. Alcorn State | Highlights
Kellogg had a career afternoon in the Best Buy Classic Championship game against visiting Alcorn State, as she scored a career-high 16 points, which included a career-best 10-of-12 performance from the free throw line. The sophomore also pulled down 12 rebounds, including six of the offensive variety, to record her first-career double-double while leading the Gophers to the Championship.
Sari Noga vs. Binghamton
Sari Noga scored a career-high 16 points, and added six rebounds and two steals, to lead Minnesota to a 65-40 victory over Binghamton on the opening day of the Subway Classic. The sophomore shot 7-of-13 from the field in 32 minutes of work, which would eventually earn her a spot on the all-tournament team.
Rachel Banham vs. Northwestern
Banham scored 26 points and added eight rebounds to help the Maroon and Gold claim its only true road victory of the season, 68-60, at Northwestern. 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. With the Wildcats threatening the Gophers' lead in the final two minutes of play, Banham connected on a layup and a trio of free throws in the final 30 seconds to secure the win. The guard was honored as the Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Week following the contest.
Kiara Buford vs. No. 9 Ohio State | Highlights
Buford not only scored 15 points in the Gophers' victory vs. No. 9 Ohio State, but the senior also dished out a career-high seven assists and added two blocks and four rebounds. Buford was 6-of-12 from the field, which included a perfect mark from three-point range. The guard tallied nine points in the second half, with a layup in the final two minutes of play giving Minnesota its largest lead of the contest.
Rachel Banham vs. Michigan
Banham notched career-highs with 28 points and six three-pointers in a career-defining contest at Michigan. The rookie finished the contest with nine field goals, which included a 6-for-10 performance from three-point range, while adding four free throws, five rebounds and an assist. Banham opened the game by going 6-for-6 from beyond the arch, and matched her previous career-high with 26 points just six minutes into the second half, before going on to set a new career high with a jumper with six seconds to play. Though the Gophers were not able to pull out a victory against the Wolverines, Banham kept her squad in the contest down to the final minute.
Kiara Buford had a career-high seven assists vs. Ohio State.
Brianna Mastey vs. No. 15 Nebraska | Highlights
Though the numbers on her stat line may have seemed average, Mastey was a critical component to Minnesota's upset victory vs. Nebraska. The senior scored nine points, seven of which came at the free throw line, and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds, but it was two of those boards that proved to be the difference in the game. With the Gophers ahead 60-58, Mastey corralled a key offensive rebound with 17 seconds to play and dished it out to Banham, leading to a pair of free throws. The Cornhuskers attempted a deep three-pointer with just over six seconds remaining on the clock, but Mastey once again was clutch on the boards, as she pulled down a defensive rebound and made a pair of free throws to seal the victory for the home team.
Kiara Buford vs. Wisconsin
Buford scored a game-high 19 points in the Maroon and Gold's, 81-49, win over Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The senior was 8-for-10 from the floor and connected on her first five attempts of the game. She added three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 25 minutes of work, while also surpassing former teammate Emily Fox for the No. 7 spot on Minnesota's all-time scoring register.
Rachel Banham vs. Virginia Tech
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 bucket accounted for two of the rookie's 15 points scored in the contest, as Banham was 6-of-13 from the field. Banham also dished out four assists, grabbed three rebounds and had two steals against the Hokies.
Palma Kaposi Signs with Gophers
The forward from Hungary will have three years of eligibility starting in 2016-17.
Banham Named B1G Athlete of the Year
The senior guard was chosen from nominees representing all 14 conference schools.
Mable, Banham NCAA Woman of the Year Nominees
Minnesota's two nominees will be in consideration for the award's 26th presentation since its inception.