Zahui B.’s career night pushes Gophers past Indiana 73-62

by Jack Satzinger

Amanda Zahui B. dominated from start to finish in Minnesota’s 73-62 win over Indiana on Thursday night. She bullied opponents down low to finish with career-highs in points (26) and rebounds (19). The redshirt freshman also controlled the paint on the defensive end with four blocks.

But the Gophers’ Swedish center also showed some finesse on Thursday, driving into the lane with her left hand, finishing around defenders, and even taking an outside shot.

“I like to play with contact, but also like to play the European style,” she said. “I think I’m a mix [of finesse and strength].”

Click this link to read more about Zahui B.'s growing role with the Gophers.

Minnesota (18-11, 7-8 Big Ten) trailed Indiana (18-10, 5-10 Big Ten) for a good portion of the game, but broke through in the second half. The push was started by Sari Noga, who hit back-to-back triples to give the Gophers a one-point advantage with just over six minutes left in the contest.

“I felt like we had this five point gap that we couldn’t just kind of get past and Rachel [Banham] drove right at me and I was wide open,” Noga said. “Everyone was in attack mode after that.”

Noga, who had 12 points, said she’s trying to make the most of her last few games as a senior at Minnesota. Her friends are helping to make the experience memorable. Nearly a dozen of them showed up to the game in togas with a sign that read Toga, Toga, Toga — Noga, Noga, Noga.

“I know that they talked about that a lot in the past and they finally made it happen,” Noga said. “It was pretty funny.”

After the consecutive Noga three-pointers, Minnesota finished the game on a 19-9 run. Banham had an off night, going seven of 22 from the field, but was strong in the final stretch. She hit a three with 3:12 left in the game, stole the ball on the next play and capped it off with a fast break lay-up.

“It was nice,” Banham, who finished with 20 points, said of the sequence.” It was at a good time and my shots weren’t really falling so it made me feel a little better about myself.”

Minnesota’s win over a decent Indiana team certainly helps its tournament chances, but doesn’t assure anything. Last week, ESPN women’s basketball bracketologist Charlie Creme told the Minnesota Daily that the Gophers needed to win two of its last three regular season games just to stay alive for the tournament.

Click this link for an in-depth look at Minnesota's tournament chances.

After their loss Monday at Michigan State and Thursday’s win, the Gophers are 1-1 in those games and need to beat Ohio State at home to follow Creme’s blueprint. From there, Minnesota likely needs to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament to cement its place in the 'Big Dance.'

But first, Noga will try to recapture Thursday night’s intensity at Senior Day on Sunday afternoon.

“I know that there’s not much time left and I think that I really have to lay everything out on the table right now and step up in that spot,” Noga said.