Minnesota ends its season in WNIT

Rachel Banham scored 37 points in her final collegiate game on Sunday.

Rachel Banham gives high-fives to fans as she leaves the floor of Williams Arena for the last time. Despite Banham leading the team in scoring with 37 points,  the Gophers fell to south Dakota 101-89 in the second round of the WNIT.

Sam Harper

Rachel Banham gives high-fives to fans as she leaves the floor of Williams Arena for the last time. Despite Banham leading the team in scoring with 37 points, the Gophers fell to south Dakota 101-89 in the second round of the WNIT.

Mike Hendrickson

The final seconds ticked away as Minnesota’s comeback bid fell short Sunday afternoon, marking a somber moment for the Williams Arena fans.
Rachel Banham’s storied Minnesota career was over.
 
 
The Lakeville, Minn., native’s illustrious five years with the Gophers came to an unfitting end in the second round of the WNIT, as South Dakota defeated Minnesota 101-89 to advance.
 
 
Banham scored 37 points on 12-32 shooting in her final game to give her 3,093 points in her career, which ranks sixth in NCAA history. She ended her final season with a school-record 914 points after coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament tear last season.
 
 
“That was really tough walking off the court. It’s going to be something I remember forever,” Banham said. “It’s going to be hard to never play here again.”
 
 
The Gophers were down 18 points with 8:13 left in the game but started a ferocious comeback that brought them within five with just over two minutes remaining. South Dakota closed out the game with a 9-2 run to end Minnesota’s season.
 
 
The Coyotes overcame an early 22-9 deficit to lead 45-43 at halftime, and the Gophers only led once in the second half.
 
 
Minnesota was outrebounded 47-43 in the game, including 18-10 in the third quarter.
 
 
“We had some momentum, and it kind of slipped away from us when they started to outrebound us,” senior guard Mikayla Bailey said. “We were out-rebounding them in the first [half], and then in the second [half] they had some key boards we should’ve had.”
 
 
Five different South Dakota players finished with over 14 points, including senior guard Nicole Seekamp who had 18 points and 14 assists.
 
 
South Dakota forced 15 Minnesota turnovers and shot 46.4 percent from the field.
 
 
The game marked the fourth time this season the Gophers allowed over 100 points in a game.
 
 
“It wasn’t our best defensive game, obviously,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. “We let a couple things go.”
 
 
Banham also finished the year with the best scoring average in Minnesota history at 28.6 points per game. With six 3-pointers made, she also extended her lead atop the program record book with 354 made in her career.
 
 
“I love Minnesota. I wanted to stay here to be close to my family, and they’ve been at every single game,” Banham said. “I’m so glad that I came here. I would never change it for anything.”
 
 
As the game ended she walked to the bench and received a standing ovation to close her collegiate playing days.
 
 
Banham clenched her jersey, brought it to her face, and waved before joining her team at center court and singing Minnesota’s fight song one last time.
 
 
“Not many people get the great experience [of playing] with someone of Rachel’s caliber,” senior guard Shayne Mullaney said. “She’s had a great, great history here and leaving a great legacy. I’m excited for her future.”