Zahui B. scores 36, but Gophers fall

Senior guard Rachel Banham announced Friday that she would return next season.

Gophers center Amanda Zahui B. runs the ball past Purdue at Williams Arena on Thursday. Purdue beat Minnesota by two points in overtime 90-88.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Gophers center Amanda Zahui B. runs the ball past Purdue at Williams Arena on Thursday. Purdue beat Minnesota by two points in overtime 90-88.

Matt Greenstein

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.”

Minnesota struggled with that Sunday.

Senior forward Shae Kelley said the team couldn’t get a feel for the rhythm of the game early on.

In a game filled with double-digit runs, the Gophers had to battle back, as they have often this year.

In many of Minnesota’s conference games, the team has been trailing at half. Sunday’s contest was no different — the Gophers saw themselves down 37-31 after the first half.

After the last game — an overtime home loss against Purdue — Kelley said it was hard for the team to battle back after putting itself in a hole.

Gophers redshirt sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. gave Minnesota much-needed consistency on the offensive end Sunday, finishing the first half with 20 of the team’s 31 first half points.

“I just needed to help my team out. They fed me the ball, and I just kept getting into position. I just needed to use my skills against their weaknesses,” Zahui B. said.

Scarlet Knights junior center Ariel Butts and backup center junior Rachel Hollivay both found themselves in foul trouble in the first half, giving Zahui B. an easy path to the basket.

“I had to take advantage of their starting forward not playing as much as they’d wanted them to. I had to be aggressive, and I had to score. Otherwise my team wouldn’t be successful. No matter who is guarding me, I had to put up numbers,” Zahui B. said.

She finished the game with yet another double-double and a career high with 36 points and 15 rebounds.

Minnesota narrowed the deficit to four points with more than three minutes left in the game, and Kelley said the team had a “never give up” mentality regardless of the score.

The team continued to feed the ball into the post where Zahui B. thrived, attempting 33 shots during the game.

“I thought she got a lot of great looks at the basket. She’s a very capable scorer around the basket,” Stollings said at a postgame press conference.

Stollings said though Rutgers is a new addition to the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights have brought a new style of play to the conference.

“I think all the Big Ten schools are very proud to have Rutgers and Maryland join the conference,” Stollings said at the press conference. “What you see from Rutgers is one of the most athletic teams in our conference. They bring a different dynamic than most of the other teams in our conference.”

Banham announces return

Senior guard Rachel Banham announced Friday that she will return next season.

Banham tore her ACL in a game against North Dakota but is eligible for a medical redshirt.

“I have a lot of unfinished business here at the Barn, and I am excited to play in front of these great fans,” Banham said at a press conference.