Minnesota takes two of three games

The team suffered its first loss of the season against Vanderbilt.

Matt Greenstein

Minnesota traveled to Florida carrying the momentum of a 100-point showing in its last game.

The Gophers couldn’t muster the same offensive effort against Vanderbilt on Friday, losing 71-54 in their first game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. But the Gophers rebounded, winning the next two games against the College of Charleston and Georgia Tech.

In Minnesota’s toughest competition — the game against Vanderbilt — it trailed for the majority of the game.

A big part of the team’s loss was the astounding difference in rebounding numbers.

Coming into the tournament, the Gophers had out-rebounded their opponents 206-175, but Minnesota had rebounding problems in Florida.

The Gophers were out-rebounded 131-107 throughout the tournament.

Minnesota’s leading rebounder, senior forward Shae Kelley, said the lack of rebounding hurt the team’s ability to run its up-tempo offense well.

The inability to run its offense effectively contributed to the team’s loss.

“We weren’t able to get into our transition game. Rebounding killed us, and it’s something that we’re still trying to work on,” senior guard Rachel Banham said.

Head coach Marlene Stollings said the team will continue to focus on rebounding in order to get its offense running smoother.

The Gophers’ offense was a bit better on Saturday when it beat the College of Charleston.

The team’s two leading scorers, Kelley and Banham, combined to score just 14 points, but freshman Carlie Wagner and redshirt junior Kayla Hirt gave the Gophers a lift off the bench. Wagner and Hirt combined for 30 of the team’s 44 bench points.

“It was huge. They led us to victory there. They were hot [and] they were hitting. It was a big lift for us without question,” Stollings said.

Banham struggled throughout the first two games of the tournament, scoring only eight points.

“I think I was just stressing too much [and] overthinking a lot of things. It was a little bit of a confidence issue,” Banham said.

In Minnesota’s final game — a 72-69 victory over Georgia Tech — the team found its offensive rhythm.

Banham led all scorers with 25 points and facilitated the offense well with four assists.

“I shot a lot with coach Fred [Chmiel], and he helped me relax and get into a rhythm. I didn’t want to overthink it too much,” Banham said.

Stollings said the team should be proud of its 2-1 record at the tournament.

“We had to come down here and play against some top-level competition. To be able to do that and fight and handle adversity [makes us] feel like we’re in a good spot,” Stollings said.