Dec. 13, 2011
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team wraps up its non-conference road schedule Wednesday night when it takes on Denver in an 8:00 p.m. CT meeting at Magness Arena.
Wednesday, Dec. 4
Minnesota at Denver - 8:00 p.m. CT
Play-by-Play - Corbu Stathes
Analyst - Lynnette Sjoquist
Minnesota - 7-5 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten
Denver - 7-3 Overall, 0-0 Sun Belt
Magness Arena (7,200)
Minnesota trails Denver, 0-1
The Gophers take on Denver in their final non-conference road trip of the season Wednesday with a 7-3 record on the season and a season-best three-game winning streak.
Minnesota defeated Air Force, Harvard and Alcorn State during the stretch, outscoring its opponents by an average of 30.0 points per game.
With its pair of wins vs. the Crimson and the Lady Braves, the Maroon and Gold won the Best Buy Classic title, its second tournament crown of the year.
Kiara Buford, who was named the Best Buy Classic MVP, leads the Gophers with a 13.9 points-per-game average, and also leads the team in assists, steals and three-point field goal percentage.
Katie Loberg averages a team-best 7.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.
The Pioneers host Minnesota with a 7-3 overall record following a home victory vs. Oregon Sunday afternoon.
Along with the Ducks, Denver has posted wins vs. Loyola Marymount, Wyoming, Air Force, Colorado State, Northern Colorado and Montana.
When playing in the friendly confines of Magness Arena, the Pioneers are a perfect 5-0 this season.
Kaetlyn Murdoch is the team's leading scorer, carrying a 16.5 points-per-game average on .570 shooting into Wednesday's contest.
Maiya Michel paces the squad with 7.1 rebounds per game, which includes 27 offensive boards.
The Gophers are 0-1 in the all-time series vs. Denver, falling to the Pioneers, 77-59, at the Kansas Tournament in Wichita, Kan., on Nov. 25, 2000.
The Maroon and Gold is also 5-8 when facing teams from the Sun Belt Conference.
Minnesota concludes non-conference play vs. the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Friday, Dec. 23 at Williams Arena.
The meeting will be the first between the two squads.
Big Ten Freshman of the Week
Rachel Banham was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week Dec. 12 after helping the Gophers post three-straight non-conference victories vs. Air Force, Harvard and Alcorn State last week, including two wins en route to the Best Buy Classic title.
Banham averaged 15.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.0 steals in Minnesota's trio of wins, while shooting .514 from the field, .500 from three-point range and going a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
The rookie opened the week vs. Air Force with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and also added a career-high six assists, six rebounds and four steals.
Banham then capped off her week by being named to the Best Buy Classic All-Tournament Team.
During the event, Banham scored 13 points and tallied four rebounds and three assists in the win vs. Harvard.
She then matched the game-high with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting Sunday vs. Alcorn State. She also contributed six rebounds, four steals and two assists in 31 minutes of play vs. the Lady Braves.
The weekly honor is the first for Banham in her career and the first for the Gophers since Kionna Kellogg earned the distinction on Jan. 31, 2011.
Valuable Time on the Floor
Every player on Minnesota's active roster saw time on the floor in each of the team's three games last week. Ten different Gophers tallied at least two points and 11 posted at least one rebound in the Gopher' victory vs. Alcorn State.
Freshman Alex Ionescu posted the first point of her career Wednesday vs. Air Force, before adding her first-career field goal Saturday afternoon vs. Harvard.
Senior Nicole Mastey tallied her first point of the season with a free throw vs. the Falcons Wednesday night.
Best Buy Classic All-Tournament Team
Kiara Buford was named the Best Buy Classic Most Valuable Player after averaging 18.0 points per game on 15-21 shooting (.714) during the event.
Freshman Rachel Banham and junior Katie Loberg each earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
Banham averaged 14.5 points and 4.0 rebounds, while Loberg averaged 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds during the tournament.
The Gophers strung together three-impressive victories last week, which produced numerous season bests. Below is a breakdown:
vs. AIR FORCE
Points - 81
3Pt% - .455
3Pt FG - 6
Assists - 18
FG - 32
FG% - .533 (32-60)
FG% (Half) - .562 (18-32)
Turnovers - 6*
* lowest since Feb. 13, 2003 (3 at Northwestern)
vs. ALCORN STATE
Defensive Rebounds - 35
FT - 33
FTA - 43
Blocks - 9
Fouls - 10
Single Games, Pick-Your-Packs on Sale Oct. 18
A Gopher Score presale for single-game tickets and pick-your-packs will open Oct. 17. Sales open at 9 a.m. both days.
B1G Announces Media Week, Tournament Tickets
Big Ten Tournament tickets will be available starting Oct. 21, and Big Ten Women's Basketball Week starts Oct. 23.
Whalen Inducted into M Club Hall of Fame
The week after winning her fourth WNBA title, the former Gophers guard was honored by her alma mater.