Minnesota looks to stop Gardner in post

The Gophers are fresh off a 63-52 loss to Creighton over the weekend.

by Jack Satzinger

In their 63-52 loss Saturday at Creighton, the Gophers couldn’t stop Bluejays forward Sarah Nelson, who scored a game-high 22 points.

“Nelson played the four position, and she was extremely versatile,” Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. “I thought she was a really tough matchup for our team.”

In Wednesday night’s game against Kansas, the Gophers will have to deal with another athletic post player — Chelsea Gardner.

Gardner scored 24 points and reeled in 13 rebounds in Kansas’ first game of the season.

Junior guard Rachel Banham said Kansas is one of the fastest and most athletic teams in the country, but Gardner controls the paint when she’s on the floor.

“Gardner is a great post player. She’s got great footwork,” Borton said. “She can put on a clinic posting up.”

Borton said she expects redshirt freshman Amanda Zahui B. to play a big part in stopping Gardner on Wednesday.

That is, if she can stay in the game.

Zahui B. has had trouble with fouls early in her career.

“I have to play aggressive but think about the fouls,” Zahui B. said.

That aggressive nature seems to come naturally to the 6-foot-5-inch Sweden native, who currently leads the Gophers in scoring.

In two games, Zahui B. is averaging 16.5 points per game. She said it means a lot to be one of the offensive focal points, and she said Borton told her she was going to have a big role.

Banham has been the Gophers’ top scorer pretty much her entire career, but she said she’s faced more pressure from defenses this season.

“I’ve always been guarded pretty tight, but it’s even harder [this year],” Banham said. “It’s nothing I can’t handle. I just need to keep getting better at it.”

Zahui B.’s emergence has given Minnesota another option, but Banham said she needs to do a better job of impacting the game as a whole.

“I need to do more,” Banham said. “I have to do so much more. I need to be able to score more, no matter if there are two or three people on me.”