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GOPHERS WOMEN 87, UMKC 49

Up next: 2 p.m. Sunday vs. Robert Morris • Williams Arena • TV: none (1500-AM)

Gophers women's basketball team sends UMKC into tizzy

  • Article by: AARON PAITICH
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • December 8, 2012 - 9:31 AM

Rachel Banham's 29 points led the Gophers to their second consecutive nonconference blowout Friday night, this time an 87-49 victory over Missouri-Kansas City.

The sophomore guard went 5-for-7 from three-point range while adding five assists and seven rebounds. Micaella Riche and Kayla Hirt also scored in double figures as the Gophers moved to 8-3 on the season. Six players scored at least eight points.

Minnesota picked up right where it left off after Wednesday night's romp over Denver. The players started the game on a 9-2 run with a couple of buckets from Kionna Kellogg and Riche, along with a Banham three-pointer.

The Gophers then put on the full-court press, sending UMKC into a tizzy. Sari Noga came up with a steal and layup to put the Gophers up 27-13 only nine minutes into the game.

"That's how we have to play in order to win games," Gophers coach Pam Borton said. "We have a play-intense defense. We really have to pressure the ball. We really have to control the boards. We've got to get on the floor after loose balls. That's got to be our identity going into the Big Ten season."

Banham drained her third consecutive three-pointer to extend the lead to 32-13. She registered 20 points and the Gophers held a 46-29 lead at the half, shooting 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from outside the arc.

Hirt got the hot hand going in the second half with three buckets in a row. The redshirt freshman from Bemidji shot 6-for-8 from the field and finished with 14 points.

"Every game I feel a little bit more comfortable," Hirt said.

Missouri-Kansas City (4-6) shot only 35.1 percent from the field, 20 percent from three-point range. Eilise O'Connor scored 20 points to lead the Kangaroos. Kara Lee added 12 points.

The Gophers outrebounded UMKC 36-27 and racked up 40 points in the paint.

The Gophers didn't commit their first turnover until 12:35 into the game and finished with only nine -- down from 10 on Wednesday.

Freshman Shayne Mullaney started her fourth consecutive game in place of Mikayla Bailey, who has been out because of an illness. Mullaney handled the ball much more while registering nine points and five assists and committing zero turnovers in 35 minutes. She sank her second collegiate three-pointer with one minute left in the game.

"I think Shayne's playing better every game," Borton said. "I think she's just getting a great feel for what she needs to do out there.

"We've got a long ways to go," Borton added. "I like the upside of this team and we have a lot of potential. I think we can be really, really good."

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