Minnesota overcomes adversity in road victory

The Gophers pushed their record to 3-0 with a victory against Memphis.

Shae Kelley, forward, jumps to make a basket at the Williams Arena Friday evening. The University of Minnesota women's basketball team defeated Southeastern Louisiana 109-60.

Elizabeth Brumley

Shae Kelley, forward, jumps to make a basket at the Williams Arena Friday evening. The University of Minnesota women’s basketball team defeated Southeastern Louisiana 109-60.

Matt Greenstein

The Gophers were trailing 29-31 at halftime against Memphis.

But they fought back, winning a close 68-62 game to stay unblemished on the season.

Early foul trouble for redshirt sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. and senior guard Rachel Banham contributed to the Gophers’ having to overcome the deficit.

“I thought we fought through a lot of adversity. I had to sit in the first half. Amanda sat the end of the first half. A lot of people stepped up,” Banham said.

Nearly three minutes into the first game, Banham picked up her second foul placing her on the bench until halftime.

“We didn’t have to put her in because we kept it close. Tory [Jacobs] came in … and kept us under control,” head coach Marlene Stollings said

The Gophers had a distinct height advantage over the smaller Memphis team, but the rebounding numbers show otherwise.

Minnesota was out-rebounded 48-37 during the game, and Stollings said the team will need to prepare itself for future opponents that will challenge them on the glass.

“We’ve obviously got outstanding rebounders on our team. I thought that they were just a little bit quicker to the ball. Certainly we’ll continue to work on that area,” Stollings said.

Senior forward Shae Kelley said the team has room to improve its rebounding.

“We just have to find bodies and really box out. We definitely have rebounders. We just need to find those bodies and key in on people so we can grab those boards,” Kelley said.

The Gophers defensively caused chaos for Memphis in the second half, and the Tigers finished shooting 32.4 percent from the floor.

Banham said the team’s defense was what helped it stay in the game.

“I thought we played much better defensively than we have in the past. I think we disrupted a bit. We were really tough on them, and it made them uncomfortable,” Banham said.

The Gophers struggled scoring off the bench, totaling only seven points, all from junior Kayla Hirt.

Kelley turned in an all-around performance for the Gophers, coming away with 20 points and eight rebounds in a game-high 38 minutes.

“[I had to] kind of lead the team verbally and lead by example,” Kelley said.

The Gophers were without starting guard Shayne Mullaney, who Stollings said didn’t travel with the team due to an injury.

Her replacement, junior Mikayla Bailey, gave the team an additional scoring presence from beyond the arc, tying a career-high in 3-pointers with four.

Stollings said the ability of the Gophers’ bench to give them a physical presence on the court was helpful in the victory.

“I’m just so proud of our bench for stepping up and helping us stay poised,” Stollings said.

She also said the team impressed her in its first road game.

“I thought we handled the adversity of our first road trip beautifully,” Stollings said.