Gophers score their way to victory

Rachel Banham led the team by scoring 30 points on 15 shots in the 91-64 victory.

Carlie Wagner manages to shoot in-between two Maine defenders on Friday night at Williams Arena where Gophers defeated Maine 91-64.

Sam Harper

Carlie Wagner manages to shoot in-between two Maine defenders on Friday night at Williams Arena where Gophers defeated Maine 91-64.

Kaitlin Merkel

The Gophers women’s basketball team’s new four-guard lineup was successful for the second time this season as Minnesota beat Maine 91-64 on Friday at Williams Arena.
Minnesota (2-0) shot 50 percent from long range Friday, scoring 13 three-pointers just a week after breaking the program record for three-pointers in a game with 16 against Wofford Nov. 13.
“Fifty percent is outstanding for any team at this level. When you’re shooting 50 percent from the three-point line, that’s tough to go against,” Gophers head coach Marlene Stollings said. “Our young ladies are very capable shooters, and we’re going to put the three ball up all year long.”
Minnesota made 35 of its 64 field goal attempts with redshirt senior guard Rachel Banham and sophomore guard Carlie Wagner leading the team. Banham scored 30 points while Wagner added 23.
“I think we’re comfortable with the four-guard lineup, especially with the way we are able to shoot the ball,” Wagner said. “It’s pretty dangerous out there with four people on the floor that are shooting the ball really well.”
Sophomore center Jessie Edwards recorded a double-double for the Gophers with 16 rebounds and 15 points.
Stollings said it was an encouraging defensive performance by the newcomer from Leeming, Australia, who is still adjusting to the more intense physicality of the game in the United States.
“We don’t have a lot of time to allow [Edwards] to adjust so we’ve been pushing her very hard,” Stollings said. “Those are [rebounding] numbers we were accustomed to last year from [former Gophers center] Amanda Zahui B.”
Edwards said she likes playing in the Gophers four-guard lineup as a newcomer because it relieves the pressure on her offensively while she adjusts to playing in the United States.
“Being a post player in that four guard format, it’s really good to have so many guards out on the perimeter that can shoot the three in case everyone collapses,” Edwards said.
Banham and senior guard Mikayla Bailey also contributed six rebounds each, meeting Stollings’ goal for her regular guards.
The Gophers led the entire game and held the Black Bears to 36.2 percent on field goal attempts. 
Minnesota also held Maine to just 10 points in the fourth quarter after making defensive adjustments.
“We figured out some of our coverages a little bit better. We were slow to adjust at times and we finally caught on,” Stollings said. “I also think that our conditioning kicked in, I thought that you saw a little bit of a separation at that point and we were able to get some run outs in transition and pull away.”
Banham, back in just her second game after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in December last year, played 31 minutes in the game while leading a big night for the
team’s offense. 
“Offensively, I think that we’re great. We can really shoot the ball; I think that we’ve proved that in these last two games,” Banham said. “Our biggest focus is just defense and rebounding. … We’ve just got to get better, and we have time to do that.”