Madison, Wis. - The Gophers women’s basketball team found the hoop Wednesday night before Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.
And after building a 25-16 halftime lead, Minnesota held on for a 63-50 victory over the Badgers. It was the third win in a row for the Gophers (16-9, 5-6 Big Ten) and the 299th in coach Pam Borton’s career.
Guard Rachel Banham, a junior named earlier in the day as one of 30 candidates for the Naismith Trophy, had 19 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals.
The trophy is given by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the nation’s top college player in April, so Banham has time to keep improving her credentials.
“Banham is a tough cover,” Badgers coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “She’s All-American, and there’s a reason why. She does a nice job of taking her time and creating her own shot, and if she doesn’t have her own shot, she’ll make the pass.”
Often to center Amanda Zahui B., who added 17 points and nine rebounds — just shy of her 12th double-double. She was 8-for-11 from the field and also had four blocks, increasing her single-season team record to 72.
Gophers guard Sari Noga also had a strong game with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists.
An early 8-0 run put the visitors ahead 10-3 in the first half. The Gophers’ lead grew to 17-5 with 6:40 left in the half when Noga capped a 7-0 run with a three-pointer.
The Badgers shot 21.4 percent in the opening half and committed 13 turnovers.
“Our zone did a great job,” Borton said. “We forced them to take outside shots and low percentage shots.”
Wisconsin (10-14, 3-9) has lost seven of its past eight games.
The Gophers shot better than the Badgers, 49 to 33 percent, outrebounded them 38-29 and outblocked them 6-0.
Wisconsin used a 11-2 to close within 43-39 with 8:24, but Banham helped the Gophers pulled away after that with six points in a row in the second-to-last minute.
“She was pretty burned down by the end of the game,” Borton said. “They were picking her up fullcourt, but she played really smart down the stretch. She made sure she was the one who was taking the shots and the free throws at the end of the game.”