Officially, it was “Amanda Zahui B. Community Night” at Williams Arena on Tuesday.
The Gophers sophomore was honored before tipoff for already having set the Minnesota career record for blocked shots this season. And she was slated for an autograph session after the game.
In between, she spent her 39-plus minutes dominating No. 13 Iowa, helping Minnesota to a 93-80 victory.
Iowa’s Samantha Logic kept the Hawkeyes (21-5, 12-3 Big Ten) close with 26 points, 13 assists and zero turnovers.
Freshman Carlie Wagner had 17 points and Shayne Mullaney dished out nine assists for the Gophers (21-6, 10-5).
But no one on the floor was better than Zahui.
The 6-5 center from Sweden set career highs with 39 points and a program- and Big Ten-record 29 rebounds. She attempted 31 shots, blocked four herself, and, for good measure, even made a three-pointer.
If that wasn’t enough, she passed 1,000 career points during the game.
And she did it all while committing just one foul, despite guarding Iowa’s 6-4 senior Bethany Doolittle, whom she held to just eight of 18 shooting.
Zahui summed up her performance in her usual, understated and unassuming style: “We had to win, and I’ll do anything it takes for us to win.”
Her coach elaborated on her record-setting night.
“I’ve said it before, but some of these things are unprecedented,” Gopher coach Marlene Stollings said.
“She’s just a sophomore, and she’s doing things that are just unheard of. … I couldn’t be more proud to be able to coach her.”
It was a statement performance from the Gophers’ emotional leader and a signature win to add to Minnesota’s increasingly impressive résumé.
The Gophers shot 50.7 percent from the field and eight of 12 from behind the arc. Paced by Zahui, they had a 53-35 rebounding edge.
And they held one of the Big Ten’s best shooting teams to just 38.1 percent shooting, 11 of 35 from three-point range.
With Shae Kelley scoring 13 and Mikayla Bailey adding 10, the Gophers had four players reach double figures, and they surpassed 90 points for the second consecutive game.
After Iowa took a 3-0 lead, the Gophers immediately closed the gap with a Wagner three — and never trailed again in the final 38 minutes.
Iowa didn’t make it an easy victory for Minnesota, though.
Logic hit a three with 7:31 left to cut the Gophers’ lead to 73-72.
But Minnesota responded.
Zahui made a pair of free throws on the next possession, and Kelley followed with back-to-back baskets, and the Gophers pulled away, making 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch.
“I think it’s one word; it’s ‘belief,’ ” Stollings said of her team’s inspired effort.
“They believe that they are going to win the game, and that’s powerful.”
That’s four victories in a row for the Gophers, and their second against a ranked team (the other coming against then-No. 12 Nebraska on Dec. 29).
With three games left in its Big Ten regular season, Minnesota has 21 wins for the first time in 10 years and 10 conference victories for the first time in six years.
Both of those are critical numbers for a team looking to make its first NCAA tournament since the 2008-09 season.
“It’s tremendous momentum, and you just keep riding it,” Stollings said.