Rachel Banham's 34 points and "backbreaking" three-pointer helped the Gophers women's basketball team stave off pesky Iowa for a 72-60 victory Thursday night at Williams Arena.
Down 11 at the half, the Hawkeyes clawed their way back into the game late before an announced 3,528. With a three-point Gophers lead, a little more than 2 minutes, 30 seconds left to play and the shot clock winding down, Banham drained a long three-pointer --well beyond the arc -- to put her team ahead 65-59.
"That was the backbreaker," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "We had played really good defense for 28 seconds and then with two seconds left she pulls up to hit the deep three to put [the Gophers] up six."
Gophers coach Pam Borton was pleased with the way her players bounced back from an 84-63 loss at Nebraska on Sunday. The Gophers, who average 3.7 blocked shots per game, registered a season-high nine against Iowa and outrebounded the Hawkeyes 48-34.
"[I'm] very proud of them for the defense and the rebounding that we displayed in today's game," Borton said.
Jaime Printy's three-pointer brought the Hawkeyes to within three with five minutes to play. A gritty play by Sari Noga came next. She grabbed a loose ball and fed it to Shayne Mullaney, who drove the lane hard to score and give the Gophers a 62-57 lead with 3:48 left. Banham's third three-pointer of the night -- and by far the deepest -- demoralized Iowa.
"I just had a lot of confidence and I was attacking the rim," Banham said. "That's something I need to do from the start."
The Hawkeyes, who fell out of the Top 25 after losing to Illinois and Northwestern last week, couldn't execute when it counted, and the Gophers (14-9, 4-6 Big Ten) got a hard-earned victory at home.
Gophers forward Micaella Riche scored six points -- all in the first half -- and had 13 rebounds, one shy of her career mark. Mullaney scored 11 points and Kayla Hirt added 10.
Printy led the Hawkeyes with 21 points. Morgan Johnson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Mullaney's early three-pointer injected some life into a game when neither team was making shots. It started a 9-0 run which gave the Gophers a 13-6 lead.
Then Banham started rolling, driving hard to the net and making shots -- she was 6-for-8 in the first half -- to extend the lead to 23-13. A strong move by Riche down low put the Gophers up 29-15, prompting Iowa to call a timeout.
Iowa (16-8, 5-5) couldn't stop Banham, the Big Ten's leading scorer, who set a program record for the most points after two seasons. Her 34 points against Iowa gave her 1,099, or seven more than Lindsay Whalen, the Gophers' all-time leading scorer, had through her sophomore season in 2002.