Gophers Open Exhibition Play Wednesday vs. Concordia St. Paul
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team will see its first action of the season Wednesday night when it takes on Concordia St. Paul in a 7:00 p.m. exhibition contest at Williams Arena. Tickets for the Halloween-night matchup are only $6 and can be purchased at mygophersports.com or at the Williams Arena Ticket Office.
The Golden Gophers and the Golden Bears go way back, as the two squads faced off against each other in the regular season four times during the 1970s. In those contests, Minnesota posted a perfect 4-0 record and outscored Concordia, 265-237. The last time the teams met was Feb. 13, 1978, which resulted in a 68-66 victory for the Gophers.
Minnesota concluded the 2011-12 season with a 19-17 overall record, its best mark in three years, and won the WBI Championship. From that team, the Gophers return seven letterwinners, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year Rachel Banham. The guard scored 580 points and averaged 16.1 points per game in her rookie campaign.
Six of the Gophers' seven returning letterwinners started at least seven games last year, led by Banham, who started all 36 games for the Maroon and Gold. Katie Loberg had 29 starts a year ago, while Kionna Kellogg had 21, Leah Cotton had 17, Sari Noga had nine and Micaella Riche had seven-straight to conclude the season. In all, Minnesota returns 67.8 (1644 of 2423) percent of its offensive production from last season and 60.2 (882 of 1465) percent of its rebounding efforts.
Head coach Pam Borton also added five newcomers to her roster this season, highlighted by the much-anticipated debut of redshirt freshman Kayla Hirt, who was forced to sit out the 2011-12 season with an injury. Hirt was a Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year candidate that averaged 21.7 points and 12.1 rebounds per game during her three-year career at Bemidji High School. Hirt missed her senior season due to injury.
Concordia St. Paul, a NCAA Division II program, is coming off a 2011-12 season in which it posted an 11-17 overall record. Its top returners are sophomore Anika Whiting, a forward who averaged 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and junior Rachel Hansen, a guard who averaged 10.4 points and 3.1 assists per game a season ago.
The Gophers will host Minnesota State at Williams Arena on Sunday, Nov. 4 in a 2:00 p.m. exhibition contest, before opening the regular season at 12:00 p.m. on Nov. 10 vs. Washington State as part of the Best Buy Classic.