Buford’s 26 not enough to stop Illini

Kiara Buford moved into ninth on the all-time scoring list.

Betsy Helfand

Adrienne Godbold and an impressive Illini scoring attack proved to be too much for the Gophers to handle Thursday. Minnesota fell 72-67 to Illinois in Champaign, Ill.

Kiara Buford anchored the Gophers’s scoring throughout the whole game. Buford started the game with nine early points and finished with 26, tops for all scorers.

Buford shot 9-of-14 in field goal attempts, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.

Point guard Rachel Banham scored just four points on one field goal in the first half.

Banham’s play picked up in the second half, as she finished with 18 points for the game.

Banham has now scored in double-digits in 20 consecutive games.

With the score tied at 13-13, the Illini put together a 16-2 run. Minnesota was down 33-23 at halftime.

Banham, the team’s leading scorer on the year, looked more like herself in the second half. She had her own personal 8-0 run to pull the Gophers within 3 points at 43-40.

Minnesota took a one-point lead on a Buford layup with 8:40 remaining in the game, but was unable to build upon it.

The game was at 67-67 tied with just 1:39 left, but a two-point field goal and a free throw by Karisma Penn, the Illini’s most prolific scorer, pushed the score to 70-67.

Banham missed a three-point attempt with 19 seconds left that would have tied the game. The Illini then put the game out of reach with two free throws.

The Gophers looked better as a team in the second half, shooting 54.8 percent âÄî up from 36 percent in the first half.

Illinois, however, had a more balanced scoring attack, getting 18 points off the bench from Godbold and 16 from Alexis Burke.

Penn was third in scoring for the Illini with 13 points. Amber Moore chipped in 11 points.

Banham, Buford, and Katie Loberg, who scored 15 points, contributed all but eight of the team 67 points.

On a personal level, Buford passed Debbie Hunter to move into ninth place on the all-time scoring list.

The Gophers will take on Penn State at Williams Arena at 2:00 p.m. Sunday.