Gophers women's basketball cruises to 80-36 victory over Loyola

  • Article by: BRYCE EVANS , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2013 - 12:03 AM

It was the Ramblers’ 30th loss in a row to a Big Ten foe.

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Six crisp passes off the hands of four different Gophers left a wide-open Shayne Mullaney with the ball at the top of the key.

Bang — Minnesota 3, Loyola 0.

Just 24 seconds into the game Tuesday, two things were clear: The Gopher offense had found a new rhythm, and visiting Loyola University Chicago was in for a long night at Williams Arena.

Seven of the first eight Minnesota field goals came off assists, and the oft-slow-starting Gophers jumped out to a 32-8 lead and cruised to an 80-36 win.

“I was really proud of the team for how we started the game today,” Gophers coach Pam Borton said.

“I thought we started off really attacking their 2-3 zone and got off to a great start, unlike the last couple games.”

Junior Rachel Banham led the way with 17 points and six assists, and freshman Stabresa McDaniel had a career-high 14 points.

Four Gophers scored in double figures, and all 10 players on Minnesota’s roster made at least one field goal.

Although there seemed to be a newfound focus on sharing among themselves, the Gophers (5-1) weren’t exactly gracious hosts two days before Thanksgiving. They buried six of their first nine three-point attempts, and played suffocating defense on an overwhelmed Ramblers team (2-4) that has lost 30 games in a row against Big Ten teams.

It didn’t help that Loyola’s first-year head coach, WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, was without her two leading scorers for the majority of the game. Sophomore Taylor Johnson, who averages 18.4 points per game, was a pregame scratch, and freshman Tiana Karopulos suffered a knee injury three minutes into the game.

But the way the Gophers moved the ball, it might not have made a difference even if Swoopes herself suited up.

Two days after grinding out a physical, slow-paced victory against Navy, Minnesota came out firing Tuesday. Banham hit three three-pointers in the opening minutes, and the Gophers swarmed Loyola’s ballhandlers.

Amanda Zahui B., Minnesota’s towering 6-5 redshirt freshman, didn’t make things any easier, either. She had five points, 10 rebounds and six blocks — one of which sent a Loyola guard hard to the floor and the Gophers the other way on a fast-break.

Sophomore Kayla Hirt had 14 points, and Mullaney 10.

The Gophers made 55.7 percent of their shots and were 8-for-17 from behind the arc.

“I thought they made good adjustments throughout the game, as much as they could, but I think we were just a little bigger than they were,” Borton said.

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: Gophers women's basketball 80, Loyola 36

    Tuesday November 26, 2013

  • Joanna Hedstrom (22) passed the ball up to Rachel Banham (1) during a fast break in the second half. Minnesota beat Loyola by a final score of 80-36.

  • Stabresa McDaniel of the Gophers attempted a shot while being defended by Loyola’s Bailey Farley.

  • Gophers Women 80, Loyola (Ill.) 36

    Up next: 6:30 p.m. Friday vs. Chattanooga in Waikiki Beach Classic • Honolulu • TV: none (1500-AM)

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