Gophers win two more before break

Minnesota will complete its 5-game homestand after the semester ends.

Minnesota guard Leah Cotton shoots a free throw against Robert Morris on Sunday at Williams Arena.

Image by Bridget Bennett

Minnesota guard Leah Cotton shoots a free throw against Robert Morris on Sunday at Williams Arena.

by Samuel Gordon

The Gophers women’s basketball team will enter finals week on a high note.

In its final games before the semester’s end, Minnesota (9-3) crushed nonconference foes Missouri-Kansas City and Robert Morris at Williams Arena on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

The Gophers, winners of three-straight games, won’t play another game until Dec. 21 as they conclude their academic semesters.

Head coach Pam Borton said she’s satisfied with her team’s position entering the break.

“I’m glad we got that one put in the bank,” she said after her team’s 82-60 win over Robert Morris. “We’re heading into finals, and that’s where our focus is at.”

The winless Colonials (0-8) hung with Minnesota for the first 15 minutes of the game.

Robert Morris forward Artemis Spanou showcased her unique skill set and looked unguardable at times. Spanou, who had 16 first-half points, scored in a variety of ways to keep her squad in the game.

But the Gophers ended the first half on a 15-2 run to take a 48-34 lead into halftime.

Minnesota quickly put the game out of reach in the second half. The Gophers tightened up defensively and held Spanou to nine second-half points on 2-for-10 shooting. She still finished with a game-high 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Minnesota held Robert Morris to 29.2 percent shooting in the second half and 34.5 percent shooting for the whole game. The Colonials made more three-pointers (10) than two-pointers (9).

The Gophers, on the other hand, shot 52 percent from the floor. Freshman guard Shayne Mullaney made all four of her three-pointers and finished with a career-high 18 points.

Mullaney has started the last five games in place of fellow freshman Mikayla Bailey, who has mononucleosis.

“Coming into this game, I felt pretty good,” Mullaney said. “I feel like I’m developing my role on the team, and I know what I’m doing.”

Guard Sari Noga also made four three-pointers and finished with 13 points.

Minnesota was even more dominant Friday in its 87-49 victory over Missouri-Kansas City (4-6).

The Gophers never trailed, and they tied their highest scoring output this season.

Sophomore guard Rachel Banham scored a team-high 29 points. She made five three-pointers and finished 11-for-17 from the field.

“I was confident, and I just kept shooting,” Banham said Friday.

Freshman forward Kayla Hirt added 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Six Minnesota players scored eight points or more.

Minnesota led UMKC 46-29 at halftime and opened the second half with a 23-6 run.

Borton said she liked her team’s defensive effort at the beginning of the second stanza.

“We came out in the second half even stronger than when we started the game,” she said.

The Gophers, who led by as many as 40 points, outrebounded the Kangaroos 36-27 and parlayed 16 UMKC turnovers into 24 points.

Minnesota will play Northern Iowa on Dec. 21 before concluding its season-long, five-game homestand against Creighton on Dec. 30.

The Gophers will start Big Ten play Jan. 3 at Michigan State.