Minnesota gets blown out in front of big crowd

Star point guard Rachel Banham struggled as the Gophers lost 84-63 to Nebraska at home.
Minnesota forward Katie Loberg leaps for a rebound against Nebraska guard Rachel Theriot on Sunday at Williams Arena.
January 22, 2013

More often than not, the Gophers women’s basketball team goes as Rachel Banham goes.              

On Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena, the star point guard just couldn’t find her game.

Nebraska held Banham to 15 points on 6-for-21 shooting en route to an 84-63 drubbing of Minnesota.

The Gophers trailed by three at halftime, but the Huskers, who recently fell out of the top 25, opened up the second half on a 20-6 run and coasted the rest of the way.

Nebraska clogged the lane and made it difficult for Minnesota players to drive to the basket, resulting in a lot of long, contested jumpers.

“That was embarrassing, really,” Gophers center Micaëlla Riché said. “We have a lot to work on. We can’t let that happen again because that’s just depressing.”

Huskers point guard Lindsey Moore dominated with 26 points, seven assists and seven rebounds.

She was outstanding in transition and half-court offense, and she dictated the tempo of the game.

“There’s a lot of point guards who can distribute, but she can distribute and score and rebound,” Nebraska head coach Connie Yori said of Moore. “She had deflections and steals today. You can’t get a lot better stat line than what she had today.”

Banham, on the other hand, couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively. She struggled getting to the basket and settled for some long jumpers.

She’s averaging more than 20 points on better than 44 percent shooting this season. But in Big Ten play, Banham is averaging 17 points on 31 percent shooting.

Nebraska played a matchup zone for much of the afternoon, and Yori said aggression was a focus.

Despite the Huskers’ aggressive defense, Minnesota didn’t get to the free-throw line in the second half after shooting 10 free throws in the first half.

Four Huskers players scored in double figures. Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said every defense the Gophers played had breakdowns.

“In the Big Ten, if you give up 84 points, you aren’t going to win many games,” she said.

Minnesota’s offense was much more fluid in the first half. The Gophers responded to a 10-0 deficit with a 17-2 run. They never led by more than five, though.

A season-high 6,361 spectators attended the blowout.

The Gophers (13-6, 2-3 Big Ten) have lost back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time this season. They fell to Purdue 75-67 on Thursday.

Borton said her squad isn’t concerned with the two straight losses.

“Every team matches up differently to certain types of play,” she said. “The Big Ten is the Big Ten, and you have to bring your ‘A’ game every single night in order to be competitive down the stretch.”

The Gophers have done that for the most part this season. They were blown out by Michigan State in their Big Ten opener, but they rebounded with wins over Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Minnesota will play at Penn State on Thursday.

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