Banham beats the buzzer against Iowa

The guard made a last-second three and finished with 35 points Monday.

Minnesota guard Rachel Banham looks to pass the ball during the second quarter at Williams Arena on Monday night. Banham scored the winning basket to defeat Iowa 78-76.

Kathryn Chlystek

Minnesota guard Rachel Banham looks to pass the ball during the second quarter at Williams Arena on Monday night. Banham scored the winning basket to defeat Iowa 78-76.

Kaitlin Merkel

With eight seconds on the clock and the Gophers trailing by one point, head coach Marlene Stollings said, it was obvious who she wanted to take the last shot.
 
 
The entire arena likely knew.
 
 
Redshirt senior guard Rachel Banham hit a 3-pointer as time expired to complete a 78-76 victory for the Gophers Monday night at Williams Arena.
 
 
“We didn’t have any timeouts left, so we kind of just had to go,” Banham said. “I got open on the left and I just let it fly. It was funny because I didn’t even see it go in, and then I heard the crowd, so I was like, ‘Yay!’”
 
 
Banham finished with 35 points in the Gophers’ fourth consecutive victory on a night where the team trailed by as many as 13 points. Thanks to her final shot, Minnesota has also won eight of its last nine games.
 
 
“We would love for [Banham] to take the last shot always in those situations, absolutely, without question,” Stollings said. “It was a great, heads-up play by her because the team was a little discombobulated coming down the floor with no timeouts, and she created just enough space … and she nailed it.”
 
 
Minnesota (18-7, 10-4 Big Ten) trailed 38-28 at halftime after its offense got off to a slow start. 
 
 
The Gophers shot 35.1 percent from the floor in the first half and the Hawkeyes held a lead from early on in the first quarter until the fourth.
 
 
“They came out with a lot more energy then we did the first half, and it showed,” sophomore guard Carlie Wagner said. “In the second half we really had to come out with a lot of energy and just play some good defense and get rebounds … and we did it.”
 
 
Minnesota cut the deficit to four after the third quarter, and outscored Iowa 24-18 in a back-and-forth final quarter to win the game.
 
 
The Gophers shot better in the second half and finished with an overall 45.2 field goal percentage. The team also shot 52.6 percent from 3-point range.
 
 
Minnesota was outrebounded 46-38 in the game, with Banham and sophomore center Jessie Edwards grabbing nine boards each.
 
 
Hawkeyes freshman forward Megan Gustafson was able to overshadow the Gophers frontcourt most of the game, finishing with 19 rebounds and 14 points.
 
 
“Credit to Iowa, they came in and they made us scrape and claw and fight for everything that we got tonight,” Stollings said. “But all in all, I’m just really proud of our resiliency in the second half.”
 
 
Banham’s buzzer-beater came after she was named to the Big Ten honor roll for the fifth time this season on Monday, and just over a week after she tied an NCAA record with 60 points against Northwestern on Feb. 7.
 
 
Her 60-point night resulted in a Twitter shout-out from her idol Kobe Bryant, and the NBA All-Star sent a congratulatory tweet again Monday night.
 
 
“I don’t even know how to recap it all. It’s been fantastic, all smiles from me,” Banham said. “We’re really clicking, and that’s what’s fun — and we’re getting wins and that’s what’s important.”