Gophers look to ride upset win into Illinois

Betsy Helfand

After its most impressive win of the season, the Gophers womenâÄôs basketball team will try to carry the momentum into its game against Illinois on Thursday in Champaign, Ill.

Head coach Pam Borton said that the team has emphasized rebounding âÄî a weak point as of late âÄî in recent practices.

Prior to their Jan. 29 game against Ohio State, the Gophers had been out-rebounded in three straight contests. They also allowed 14 offensive rebounds to the Buckeyes in the first half Sunday.

âÄúThere are a lot of players on our team who arenâÄôt rebounding the way they used to rebound four games ago,âÄù Borton said.

Although Borton was not necessarily referring to star point guard Rachel Banham, the freshman said she hasnâÄôt rebounded as well as she did in the past.

âÄúI think IâÄôm watching the ball too much, and IâÄôm not really boxing out my player,âÄù Banham said.

Banham is second in the team in rebounding with 5.5 rebounds per game. She has averaged 5.3 rebounds in her past four games.

âÄúI donâÄôt think IâÄôm as aggressive with it,âÄù Banham said. âÄúI used to always run after it and get after it, and I wanted most of the boards, but now I think IâÄôm being more lazy.âÄù

MinnesotaâÄôs biggest challenge against Illinois will likely be to contain Preseason All-Big Ten honoree Karisma Penn.

Penn leads the Illini with 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Illinois sits second-to-last in the conference with a 1-7 record. Its lone win came at Michigan State on Jan. 26.

Minnesota will likely play without forward Jackie Voigt, who suffered a concussion Jan. 22. Borton said Tuesday that Voigt had yet to pass an impact test.

The Gophers are 23-32 all-time against the Illini and 8-19 in Illinois.