Women’s basketball upsets Michigan State

Kiara Buford had a game-high 22 points and the Gophers shot 38 free throws in the win.

Betsy Helfand

The Gophers women’s basketball team upset defending conference champion Michigan State 71-65 on Thursday at Williams Arena.

With 10:26 remaining in the first half, Minnesota (11-9, 3-3 Big Ten) took a lead that it never relinquished.

“I was very proud of the team for bouncing back after the last two games, especially after a close loss at Michigan,” head coach Pam Borton said. “I was very proud of how they approached this game mentally.”

Guard Kiara Buford, who had combined to score 15 points in the Gophers’ last two games âÄî both losses âÄî scored a game-high 22 points and contributed five rebounds.

“I think I really had to establish myself back in the paint and at the rim,” Buford said. “I think I was taking a lot of outside shots to start the games off the last couple of games so I was really just trying to do what I do best.”

Buford also said that she felt it was important to help relieve freshman Rachel Banham of the pressure of being the only player scoring.

Banham, who is leading the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game, contributed 16 points.

Borton also acknowledged the need for a more balanced scoring effort.

“We had a lot of other people really step up,” Borton said. “We had three in double figures and one with eight and [one with] nine. That’s what we need from this team.”

Michigan State (12-7, 4-2 Big Ten) threatened to get back in the game, coming to within six points with 9:20 left in the second half. But unlike the Gophers’ last game against Michigan in which they blew multiple 10-point leads, they were able to maintain their composure late in the game.

“It kind of reminded me of the Michigan game but I think this time we stayed more poised,” Banham said. “And we knew what to expect and we settled down a little bit and just ran through our plays and hit shots.”

Minnesota shot 27-for-38 from the free throw line. Forward Katie Loberg missed three of four free throw attempts in the last minute of the game, but by that point the Gophers had all but cemented the win.

Michigan State’s Lykendra Johnson, who came into the game averaging 3.7 points and 9.7 rebounds against Minnesota, only played 19 minutes. Johnson played a limited role in the game because of foul trouble, and finished with four points and four rebounds.

Senior Jackie Voigt scored her 700th point and snagged her 600th rebound in a Minnesota uniform.

Moving forward, Borton said that if the team is consistent, and plays as it did against Michigan State, she thinks it can win the rest of the games on its conference schedule.

The Gophers will travel to Nebraska for a game at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.