It's not that Pam Borton didn't appreciate reaching her 200th victory with the Gophers women's basketball team. It's just that the nature of coaching, with its never-ending emphasis on what lies ahead, simply doesn't provide much opportunity to reflect on the past.
So late Sunday afternoon, Borton thanked all those who helped her along the way to No. 200, a 77-60 triumph over Maine in the Subway Classic at Williams Arena. Then the coach shifted her sights toward pursuing No. 201. Her team gave her plenty to look forward to, further expanding its growing confidence with back-to-back victories.
The Gophers (4-0) had to work harder Sunday than they did in Saturday's 45-point blowout of Ohio. After scoring the game's first 12 points, they drifted a bit on defense, allowing Maine (1-4) to cut a 17-point lead to four midway through the second half. They responded by reeling off a dozen unanswered points, shutting down the Black Bears for more than four minutes.
Captains Rachel Banham and Micaella Riche again led the way, combining for 32 points. Banham, who was named most valuable player of the tournament, scored 16 and added seven assists. Riche, who joined her on the all-tournament team, made seven of 10 shots for 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.
"We started off the game extremely well, and we finished extremely well," said Borton, who is 200-125 in 11 seasons with the Gophers. "We let up a little bit when we got that 12-2 lead and let them back into the game. But we got refocused and defended extremely well."
Borton's goal over the weekend was to develop more consistency over the course of the entire game. She said she was pleased with her team's progress in that area and in others, viewing the two games as collective steps forward.
Sunday, she noted the low number of turnovers (10), the rebounding margin (40-33 Gophers) and the balanced scoring. Two other Gophers -- freshman guard Mikayla Bailey and sophomore Kayla Hirt, who missed last season because of a knee injury -- scored in double figures. Hirt scored eight of her 10 points in the second half; Bailey finished with 12 points and made two of three shots from three-point range.
The game looked like it might become another runaway as the Gophers hit their first five shots, while Maine didn't score until more than three minutes had elapsed. But the Black Bears, whose 13-player lineup included nine freshmen, didn't lose heart. Down by 17 points with 11 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half, they whittled that deficit to 39-31 at halftime.
A 9-2 run pulled them within 57-53 with 10:03 left to play. Then the Gophers, who endured some spurts in which they missed assignments and left opponents untended, got back to the defensive plan and locked Maine down.
Later this week, the Gophers go on the road for the first time this season, facing Richmond, James Madison and Missouri in the Cancun Challenge.
"We have a lot to work on, but I like where we're at right now," Riche said. "If we continue to work hard, we're going to be all right.''
UNLV 60, Ohio 51: In the third-place game of the Subway Classic, the Rebels (2-2) overcame a 35-31 halftime deficit with a 16-0 run in the second half. Alana Cesarz scored 27 points for UNLV. Shavon Robinson and Ashley Fowler each scored 10 points for Ohio (1-2).