Gophers Set to Open Season Saturday vs. Washington State
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team is set to open the 2012-13 season Saturday when it hosts Washington State in the opening round of the Best Buy Classic. The contest will tip off at 12:00 p.m. from Williams Arena.
Along with the Golden Gophers and the Cougars, the Best Buy Classic will also feature South Dakota State and Villanova, who will square off Saturday at approximately 2:00 p.m. The tournament will conclude Sunday afternoon, with the consolation game scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m., and the championship game set to get underway at 1:00 p.m.
Live video of both of the Gophers' contests will be available on Gopher All-Access, while live audio of Minnesota's games at the Best Buy Classic can be heard on 1500ESPN.
The Gophers are coming off a 2011-12 season in which they posted a 19-17 overall record and a 6-10 record in Big Ten Conference play. Head coach Pam Borton returns seven letterwinners from that squad, including the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and All-Big Ten Second Team selection, Rachel Banham.
The guard scored a freshman-program record 580 points (16.1ppg) last season to help the Maroon and Gold return 67.8 percent of its offensive production from a year ago. Banham will look to become the 21st member of Minnesota's 1,000-point club in her sophomore campaign, needing 420 points to become just the third Gopher to reach the milestone in two years or less (Lindsay Whalen, Laura Coenen).
Borton is also looking to reach a milestone early in the season, as the head coach is only four wins away from securing her 200th victory at Minnesota. Borton enter's Saturday's season-opener with a 196-125 record at the helm of the Golden Gophers, which are the most wins by a single head coach in program history.
Saturday's meeting between Minnesota and Washington State will be the fourth all-time, with the Gophers holding a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series. The last time the two teams met on the hardwood was on Dec. 10, 2005, which resulted in a, 83-57, Minnesota victory.
The Cougars concluded the 2011-12 season with a 13-20 overall record and a 5-13 Pac-12 clip, but played the No. 27 toughest schedule in the nation according to the NCAA. Their 13 wins were their most since the 1995-96 season when they notched 17 victories.
Washington State head coach June Daugherty is in her sixth season with the Cougars and her 25th season overall as a head coach. She boasts a 45-109 record at WSU and a 358-323 career coaching record.