Gophers lose two as regular season wanes

Rachel Banham broke the Big Ten’s all-time scoring record on Sunday.

Minnesota guard Rachel Banham carries the ball at Williams Arena on Monday, Feb. 15. Banham scored the winning basket to defeat Iowa 78-76.

Kathryn Chlystek, Daily File Photo

Minnesota guard Rachel Banham carries the ball at Williams Arena on Monday, Feb. 15. Banham scored the winning basket to defeat Iowa 78-76.

Kaitlin Merkel

A 52-point performance by redshirt senior guard Rachel Banham wasn’t enough to lift the Gophers over No. 25 Michigan State.
 
 
Minnesota lost 114-106 on the road to the Spartans on Sunday, with Banham breaking the Big Ten’s all-time career scoring record.
 
 
She passed Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante and currently has 2,921 career points.
 
 
“I had no idea that I was getting close to breaking it, so that’s cool that it happened,” Banham said. “I wish we could’ve gotten the win for our team goals and looking toward the NCAA tournament, but I’m proud of myself for being able to do that.”
 
 
Minnesota (18-9, 10-6 Big Ten) also lost its first game of the weekend 93-79 at Indiana, ending a four-game winning streak.
 
 
Banham scored 26 points in each half on Sunday, and the Gophers trailed by two at halftime in East Lansing, Mich.
 
 
Minnesota fell behind quickly in the third quarter, and the Spartans took a 13-point lead the Gophers were unable to overcome in the fourth.
 
 
The team scored more than 100 points for the fifth time this season but lost for the first time when hitting that mark.
 
 
“When you give up 114 points, you aren’t going to win. We’re just very disappointed about our defensive effort,” head coach Marlene Stollings said. “If we just step up and get five or six more stops at any point in the game, we still win. It’s just an area that we have to continue to focus on.”
 
 
Minnesota shot 47.2 percent from the floor, while Michigan State shot 54.5 percent.
 
 
Five Spartans players scored in double digits, with redshirt junior forward Aerial Powers totaling 40 points.
 
 
“They have a lot of different people who can score. They don’t just have one player. Powers is great, but they were able to take advantage of us in other ways,” junior guard Joanna Hedstrom said. “Bottom line, we didn’t adjust well to what they were doing.”
 
 
Sophomore guard Carlie Wagner scored 20 points, and Hedstrom added 16 behind Banham.
 
 
The Gophers were also outrebounded 40-36 by Michigan State and committed 16 turnovers in the game to the Wolverines’ 11. 
 
 
 
“We made it too easy for them. They got a lot of really good looks and a lot of open shots,” Banham said. “They kept running the same play and scoring the same way. … It’s just a matter of playing defense. It’s pretty simple.”
 
 
Minnesota shot 46 percent from the floor in Thursday’s loss and made three 3-pointers. The Hoosiers drew fouls and get to the line often, making 28 of 42 free throws in the game.
 
 
“We put them to the free throw line way too many times, and they outrebounded us,” Banham said. “We’ve got to be tougher.”
 
 
Banham led the team with 29 points, while senior guard Shayne Mullaney added 17.
 
 
The Gophers now have only two games left on their regular season schedule as the team tries to make a late push for the NCAA tournament.
 
 
“We’ve got to be really ready to play, and I think we need to go in there with a little bit of anger,” Banham said. “We need to be ready and really, really focused and ready to dominate and come out punching.”