The North Dakota-dominated crowd became silent. With 8:25 left on the clock until halftime, Gophers senior guard and captain Rachel Banham writhed in pain, holding her knee as fellow senior Shae Kelley watched helplessly. Head coach Marlene Stollings later announced Banham, the team’s star, would miss the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL. With Banham down, both Kelley and redshirt sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. have been forced to step up.
Typically, any team that commits 10 turnovers in the first half of a basketball game and allows its opponents a 15-0 run will have a tough time charging back to a victory. That was the case for the Gophers on Sunday, as they lost 61-66 against Rutgers and struggled with ball control. Earlier in the season, head coach Marlene Stollings said the team’s game plan is “offense leads to defense.”
Heading into Thursday’s exhilarating and adrenaline-filled 90-88 overtime loss against Purdue, Minnesota’s redshirt sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. said the Gophers would have to contain the Boilermakers’ shooters. But Minnesota struggled to do that Thursday; Zahui B. — who was third in the nation in blocks as of Jan. 20 — was only held to just one block during the game.
Michael Phelps shattered the record for the most gold medals in a single Olympic Games, to which Hall of Fame swimmer Mark Spitz responded, “Records are meant to be broken.” With a 65-61 home victory against Indiana last Sunday, the Gophers broke a record of their own, starting 16-2 for the first time in program history.
The Gophers’ balance of strength, endurance and speed was on full display Saturday as Minnesota notched 12 titles at its season-opening meet. “I thought our team did a really good job of bringing the energy,” assistant coach Sarah Hopkins said. “Overall, I think we had a really solid performance across the board. We had a lot of balance today.”
The phrase “good defense leads to good offense” has become one of the most widely-used clichÃ©s in sports. But with Minnesota’s new up-tempo style of play, the Gophers are flipping the script. “We feel like the better we’re playing offensively, it generates solid defense,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. “We kind of go opposite of what most people believe in that capacity.”
In early stages of their season, the Gophers have had trouble getting off to quick starts, forcing them to rely on the second half to catch up. Sunday night’s 88-86 overtime victory against the Butler Bulldogs was no exception. “Butler is a very talented team. They gave us all we could handle tonight. I’m very proud of the resiliency of our team,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. With 4.9 seconds left in the game, senior guard Rachel Banham drained a 3-pointer, which tied the game and sent it to overtime.
Before Wednesday’s 60-55 victory over North Carolina State, Gophers head coach Marlene Stollings said senior forward Shae Kelley’s aggressiveness had been helping spark the team. Kelley, Minnesota’s leader in scoring, steals and rebounds, was held to only eight points in the game, and she looked out of rhythm early. So did her team. The Gophers began the game with double-digit turnovers within the first 10 minutes. Stollings said the turnovers were due to the team’s lack of focus at the beginning of the game.
The Gophers traveled to Florida, played three games, journeyed home and flew to the East Coast — where they will take on a defense-oriented North Carolina State team Wednesday — in just under a week’s time. The total trek covered more than 4,500 miles. But senior guard Rachel Banham said the quick turnaround won’t factor into the team’s upcoming performance.
Minnesota traveled to Florida carrying the momentum of a 100-point showing in its last game. The Gophers couldn’t muster the same offensive effort against Vanderbilt on Friday, losing 71-54 in their first game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. But the Gophers rebounded, winning the next two games against the College of Charleston and Georgia Tech. In Minnesota’s toughest competition — the game against Vanderbilt — it trailed for the majority of the game. A big part of the team’s loss was the astounding difference in rebounding numbers.
While many Minnesotans had their eyes glued to their ...READ MORE