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Banham guides Gophers to fourth victory

Star guard Rachel Banham recorded a game-high 32 points in the victory.

The Gophers continued their defensive dominance with a commanding 107-62 victory over the Southern University Jaguars on Tuesday night.

The Jaguars started the game 1-for-7 from the floor, and the Gophers capitalized on their defensive pressure early on, jumping out to a quick 13-2 lead.

“We started the game off more intense than we have the last couple of games. I think that just set the tone for the entire evening. We jumped out to such a great start that we were able to play off of it the rest of the night,” head coach Marlene Stollings said.

The Jaguars shot a dismal 31.6 percent from the field. The Gophers scored as many points in the first half as Southern did in the game.

Senior forward Shae Kelley contributed to that, pouring in another solid all-around performance and finishing with a double-double.

Kelley scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds and five steals.

The success on the defensive end revived Minnesota’s offensive prominence — the Gophers ended the first half with four players in double figures and ended the game with more than 100 points for the second time this season.

Senior guard Rachel Banham got off to a quick start and continued her dominance throughout the game, finishing with 32 points, making eight three-pointers and dishing out five assists.

Banham’s start helped propel the Gophers to an early lead and gave the team the momentum to continue its success.

“I was taking advantage of the space that I had, which usually doesn’t happen, so I was loving it,” she said.

The Gophers controlled the glass, recording 25 points off of offensive rebounds.

Redshirt sophomore Amanda Zahui B. gave the Gophers a big boost on the glass, grabbing 15 rebounds and making her defensive presence felt with six blocks.

Zahui B. said the team’s balance on all sides of the ball has been important for the team’s development.

“It’s fun to share the ball. Defense, we’re working really hard, and everybody’s getting [blocks and steals], and we [really have great teamwork],” Zahui B. said.

Minnesota began the game shooting only 28.6 percent from beyond the arc but turned it up in the second half, ending the game with 11 made 3-pointers.

Stollings said she was proud of the way her team played but still sees areas for improvement.

“Loose balls are a heavy area that we want to tighten up. We feel like we’re getting our hands on a lot of balls, [but] we’re not reeling them in. I thought we made some really good strides these last couple of games, and we want to continue to advance it,” Stollings said. 

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