Rachel Banham wasn’t happy her Gophers were playing in the WNIT this week instead of the NCAA tournament.
But the senior guard made the most of her postseason opportunity.
Banham scored 48 points as the Gophers beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee 87-80 on Wednesday night in a first-round game of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament game at Williams Arena. That’s the most points scored in the Barn by any college player, man or woman.
Scott Skiles of Michigan State had 45 in 1986; the Gophers’ Laura Coenen had 42 in 1984.
Banham scored 60 and 52 points earlier this season in road games. She averaged 27.6 points during the regular season.
Nearly half her points Wednesday came in the third quarter, when she scored 23 of her team’s 28 points, including the team’s final 21 as the Gophers built a 66-54 lead.
Actually, Banham’s three-point shots weren’t falling (3-for-13), but she was 15-for-20 inside the arc.
“It’s fun to stay in shape and keep scoring points,” she said.
The Panthers (19-13) clawed back in the fourth, and got within two at 82-80 but no closer.
Banham’s total was a WNIT single-game record and vaulted her from 10th on the all-time NCAA scoring career list to sixth with 3,056 points
“Really proud of Rachel, obviously,” Gophers coach Marlene Stollings said. “She continues to annihilate records. [We are] witnessing history every time she steps on the floor.”
Banham passed two former and two current WNBA stars: Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw, Maya Moore of the Lynx and Elena Della Donne of the Chicago Sky.
“All these records don’t really hit me now,” Banham said, “but down the road I will really appreciate it. It’s crazy when you hear those names, because they are players I looked up to, so right now it’s really weird.”
Next the Gophers (20-11) will take on South Dakota, a 74-68 winner over Creighton on Wednesday, in a second-round game at 2 p.m. Sunday at Williams Arena.