The Gophers continued their defensive dominance with a commanding 107-62 victory over the Southern University Jaguars on Tuesday night. The Jaguars started the game 1-for-7 from the floor, and the Gophers capitalized on their defensive pressure early on, jumping out to a quick 13-2 lead. “We started the game off more intense than we have the last couple of games. I think that just set the tone for the entire evening. We jumped out to such a great start that we were able to play off of it the rest of the night,” head coach Marlene Stollings said.
The Gophers overcame halftime deficits in two consecutive games last week, emerging victorious in the process. But despite the victories, senior guard Rachel Banham said the team’s intensity early in the game can improve. “We don’t bring enough energy from the start. I think the other teams throw the first punch instead of us throwing the first punch,” she said. “I think teams have just been coming out more hyped than we have. We’re not showing the instant fire.”
The Gophers were trailing 29-31 at halftime against Memphis. But they fought back, winning a close 68-62 game to stay unblemished on the season. Early foul trouble for redshirt sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. and senior guard Rachel Banham contributed to the Gophers’ having to overcome the deficit. “I thought we fought through a lot of adversity. I had to sit in the first half. Amanda sat the end of the first half. A lot of people stepped up,” Banham said.
Just eight days after the Gophers placed second at the Midwest regional meet, securing an automatic bid to the NCAA championships, the team fell far short of its top-20 goal. The Gophers placed last at the NCAA championships Saturday, and redshirt junior Becca Dyson said the team was disappointed with the way it raced. “I definitely don’t think we were happy with what happened,” Dyson said. “I think it was kind of just a tough day from the get-go.”
In what head coach Sarah Hopkins called a “really quick turnaround,” the Gophers will race at the NCAA championships Saturday just eight days after placing second at the NCAA Midwest regional. Hopkins has set the goal of placing in the high teens for the team. At last year’s meet, Minnesota placed 20th in a field of 31 teams. “Improving on last year’s performances is definitely something we want to accomplish,” redshirt junior Liz Berkholtz said.
For Gophers star Rachel Banham, the first half of Wednesday’s 93-76 victory was forgettable. In a dismal first half, Banham started the game shooting 25 percent from the field. The Gophers were in a hole, at one point down 12 points and in dire need of a scorer to come to light. But senior forward Shae Kelley came forward, giving the team a much-needed spark. “If someone’s not hitting [shots], someone else is picking up for it,” Banham said. “It definitely helps when someone else is picking it up.”
The Gophers pulled off a convincing victory in their season opener on Friday. And that’s why head coach Marlene Stollings said the team is going to keep the same starting lineup for Wednesday’s game. Stollings said redshirt sophomore Amanda Zahui B. will continue coming off the bench as she rebounds from a previous injury.
For the 10th consecutive year, the Gophers will compete in the NCAA championships behind top-10 finishes from redshirt juniors Liz Berkholtz and Kaila Urick. The Gophers were all business going into the NCAA Midwest regional meet and had one goal to fulfill: make it to the national meet. They did that, placing second as a team behind Iowa State and earning an automatic bid to the championships.
On a cold but momentous night in which the Gophers defeated Southeastern Louisiana 109-60, Minnesota stuck to its up-tempo strategy and, in the process, won Marlene Stollings’ introductory game as head coach. Since Stollings was hired, questions surrounding her fast-paced scheme have been rampant. Minnesota put all of those questions to rest Friday. Stollings pulled out a small, three-guard lineup including freshman Carlie Wagner, senior Rachel Banham and junior Shayne Mullaney.
With the hiring of Marlene Stollings, fans had better not blink, or they’ll miss the up-tempo style the new head coach has implemented into the Gophers’ new-look team. The Gophers will open their season against Southeastern Louisiana on Friday for a game Stollings said the team has been anxiously awaiting.
While many Minnesotans had their eyes glued to their ...READ MORE