STATE COLLEGE, PA. – The Gophers women’s basketball team, playing without injured starting point guard Shayne Mullaney, suffered its worst Big Ten loss in nearly four years on Sunday, losing to 13th-ranked Penn State 83-53 in a rare national television appearance on CBS.
The Gophers (13-8, 2-5), winless on the road in conference play, committed 21 turnovers and generated little offense without their assist leader, Mullaney, who missed the game because of concussion symptoms. Rachel Banham (25), Amanda Zahui B. (16) and Kayla Hirt (eight) scored all but four of the team’s points at the Bryce Jordan Center. Banham and Hirt were the only Gophers who scored in the first half.
The first-place Lady Lions (15-4, 6-1) have won four in a row and have not allowed more than 55 points during that stretch.
“They are just big and they protect the rim and they don’t give you a lot of easy shots inside and a lot of penetration to the basket,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said.
It was the Gophers’ worst Big Ten loss since a 74-40 defeat at Michigan on Feb. 7, 2010, and their worst loss overall since Dec. 5, 2010, when they fell to Baylor 103-56.
Mikayla Bailey started in place of Mullaney but played just 13 minutes and scored only two points. Most of Mullaney’s minutes went to freshman Stabresa McDaniel. Appearing in only her second conference game, McDaniel played 35 minutes, second only to Banham.
Zahui B. posted her Big Ten-leading ninth double-double (she had 12 rebounds) but led the team with seven turnovers and fouled out. The Gophers’ other main post player, Micaëlla Riché, had two points and one rebound in 23 minutes.
The Gophers were outrebounded 42-31.
“I thought our post players had a very poor night,” Borton said. “I thought Amanda got off to a really slow start. ... She’s been extremely successful throughout the course of the season, but this is the first time she’s seen kids of this size.”