The University of Minnesota women's basketball team will conclude its exhibition slate Sunday afternoon when it hosts Minnesota State at Williams Arena. The contest is set to get underway at 2:00 p.m.
The Golden Gophers are coming off a, 76-49, exhibition victory over Concordia, St. Paul, where four different players scored in double-figures, led by sophomore guard Rachel Banham'sgame-high 22 points. Minnesota forced 29 Golden Bear turnovers in the contest, converting the miscues into 30 points.
Minnesota and Minnesota State faced each other 15 times during the 1970s in the regular season, with the Gophers holding a 10-5 advantage in the series. The two team's last regular-season meeting was on Feb. 14, 1979, a 72-52 win for the Maroon and Gold.
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 Banham, who was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. 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 Nogahad 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.
Freshmen Mikayla Bailey and Shayne Mullaneywill also be looked upon to make significant contributions early in the season for the Gophers.
Minnesota State, a NCAA Division II program, is coming off a 2011-12 season in which it posted an 18-11 overall record. The Mavericks return five starters from last season, including its top two returners, sophomores Jamie Bresnahan and Aubrey Davis, who were each named to the NSIC All-Freshman Team a year ago. Bresnahan averaged 9.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and Davis averaged 10.6 points and 2.9 assists per game for Minnesota State.
The Gophers will open the 2012-13 season against Washington State on Saturday, Nov. 10, in the opening game of the Best Buy Classic at Williams Arena. Game time is set for 12:00 p.m.