Gophers bounce back with much-needed win in Michigan

Minnesota used a strong team effort to beat Michigan on the road.

Minnesota center Amanda Zahui B. shoots against North Dakota on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 at Williams Arena.

Lisa Persson

Minnesota center Amanda Zahui B. shoots against North Dakota on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 at Williams Arena.

Jack Satzinger

This season, Big Ten road wins have been elusive for the Gophers, and so has consistent play from members of their supporting cast.

Minnesota (14-9, 3-6 Big Ten) managed to buck both of those trends over the weekend with an 85-69 victory against Michigan (14-8, 5-4) behind strong play from stars and role players alike.

“We bounced back from a pretty awful two games, and they were very resilient,” head coach Pam Borton told reporters after the game.

The Gophers were against the ropes coming into the weekend after a 30-point drubbing at Penn State and a home loss to Iowa.

Minnesota looked out of sorts in both games and never developed a consistent team flow in either contests.

Borton cited guard Shayne Mullaney’s absence as a factor in the Penn State loss.

Mullaney returned for the Iowa game but stayed in Minneapolis on Saturday with concussion-like symptoms.

The Gophers didn’t let her absence contribute to another road embarrassment this time around.

“We were sick of losing,” Mikayla Bailey told reporters after the game.

It sure looked like it.

Bailey, who averaged just 2.6 points per game last season, broke out for a career-high 17 points Saturday.

Her previous career-high was 12 points last season in a win over Maine. She also led Minnesota with six assists Saturday.

Bailey’s performance was just what Borton has been waiting for from role players.

“I thought [Bailey] had some good looks that she knocked down,” Borton told reporters after the game. “[Bailey] is back to her form from a year ago, before she had all of her injuries and sickness.”

Bailey stepped up, but as usual, junior guard Rachel Banham and freshman center Amanda Zahui B. led the Gophers in scoring with 24 points each.

Zahui B. had a monster game with 16 rebounds to go along with four blocks. She has tied Minnesota’s single-season blocks record of 65 with seven regular-season games left on the schedule.

That previous mark, which Zahui B. is on pace to shatter by the end of the year, was set by Janel McCarville in 2003-04.

“Amanda played a great game, scored her layups, which really opens things up on the perimeter for our guards,” Borton told reporters after the game.

Zahui B.’s customary post partner Micaëlla Riché didn’t start Saturday.

Riché was replaced by Kayla Hirt, whose outside game seemed to better complement Zahui B.

Borton alluded to the fact that the lineup could continue to shift around in the coming weeks.

“We’re just trying to find something that works,” Borton said.

It worked Saturday.