MADISON, WIS. - In their Big Ten women's basketball opener, the Gophers got a lot of offense from Rachel Banham but little from anyone else in a loss at Michigan State.
Sunday, the conference's leading scorer went 0-for-10 from the floor and finished with a season-low point total -- but the Gophers found other contributors on offense to earn their first road victory of the season, beating Wisconsin 60-55 at the Kohl Center.
Micaella Riche had 14 points and eight rebounds, Kayla Hirt added 12 points and six rebounds and the Gophers (12-4, 1-1 Big Ten) won despite getting only nine points from Banham, all from the free-throw line. She entered the day averaging 21.4 points per game. But the sophomore point guard did have 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Asked if Banham's day was caused by good defense or poor shooting, Gophers coach Pam Borton said: "Probably a little bit of both. She's a special player and I think every time she got in the lane, she had two people on her. I thought they clogged the lane on her extremely well and then left other people open for shots. But I thought they had a great defensive effort against her."
The Gophers had a pretty good defensive effort themselves, holding the Badgers (8-7, 0-2) to 31.4 percent shooting. Wisconsin made six three-pointers in the second half on 10 attempts but went 1-for-14 from two-point range after halftime. The Gophers also had a 44-29 rebounding advantage.
Riche was 5-for-5 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the foul line for the Gophers, who led 30-27 at halftime, maintained a single-digit lead for the first 15 minutes of the second half and went up 11 on Hirt's jumper with 4 minutes, 59 seconds to go. The Gophers went without a field goal for the final 4:18 and were outscored 13-6 over the final two minutes, but time ran out on the Badgers rally.
"It's really going to come down to -- when you're playing on the road -- you have to defend and you have to rebound," Borton said. "And you're not going to score as many points as do at home. ... Obviously Rachel didn't have a great shooting night, other than making some free throws at the end of the game. You really have to hang your hat on defense and have a one-and-done mentality. I thought our kids ... really grinded it out in the last eight minutes."
Hirt provided the Gophers some scoring off the bench. In Thursday's 66-51 loss, Michigan State reserves outscored the Gophers' 35-4, with Hirt playing only five scoreless minutes. She played 25 Sunday and took a game-high 15 shots, making six. She also helped the Gophers earn a 44-29 rebounding advantage.
Morgan Paige scored 22 points for Wisconsin and Jacki Gulczynski added 19. But the Badgers' third-leading scorer had only six points -- Cassie Rochel, Banham's high school teammate at Lakeville North.