Banham powers Gophers past Green Bay

Jack Satzinger

The Gophers thought they should have made the NCAA Tournament field, so they played with anger in their win over Green Bay in the first round of the WNIT on Wednesday night.

"Coach [Pam] Borton said we have to play angry because we deserve to be in that tournament," Amanda Zahui B. told reporters after the game.

The redshirt freshman center was pivotal in Minnesota's win, racking up 17 points and 14 rebounds. But the Gophers (21-12) scraped past Green Bay (22-10) 62-60 with a cold-blooded 31-point performance from Rachel Banham.  

Gophers fans would be unwise to expect anything else from the "Maroon Mamba", who has now scored more points in a single season than any other Minnesota player with 714. And her last three may have been the biggest. 

Slithering to the right wing with 11 seconds left in the game, the Maroon Mamba struck and netted a deep three to give the Gophers a one-point lead. 

"I just let it fly. Once I put it up there I knew it was going in," Banham told reporters after the game. 

In her words, "Kobe mode." 

Banham's basketball idol, Kobe Bryant, goes by the "Black Mamba" and is known for hitting game winners. He also holds the Los Angeles Lakers' franchise record for points in a single season. 

After Wednesday night's win, Banham can say the same to both accomplishments. 

"Rachel is a big-time player. She has the killer instinct," Borton told reporters after the game.

Banham's big night pushed the Gophers into the second round of the WNIT, where they'll face the winner of Thursday night's contest between Southern Methodist and Texas Southern. 

"We found a way to win. It was a miracle in a bottle, but we found a way to win," Borton told reporters after the game.