Minnesota takes two of three in Cancun tourney

The Gophers played their first games away from Williams Arena.

Minnesota guard Kionna Kellogg pulls away from Minnesota State during a game on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, at Williams Arena.

Emily Dunker

Minnesota guard Kionna Kellogg pulls away from Minnesota State during a game on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, at Williams Arena.

Samuel Gordon

The Gophers women’s basketball team’s early success came to a halt on its first road trip of the season, but Minnesota rebounded to post a 2-1 record at the Cancun Challenge.

Minnesota lost to Richmond on Thursday before rebounding to beat James Madison on Friday and Missouri on Saturday.

Minnesota played three games in three days in Cancun, Mexico and returned home with its first two wins away from Williams Arena.

“We faced major adversity on this trip,” head coach Pam Borton said in a release. “We learned about where we are mentally and physically, and we put some pieces together as a team.”

Minnesota’s loss to Richmond was easily its worst performance of the season. The Gophers shot 30.9 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 20 times. The result was a 58-46 loss.

The Gophers led 28-23 early in the second half, but the Spiders went on runs of 16-4 and 17-3 and cruised to the win.

Minnesota point guard Rachel Banham and forward Micaella Riche led Minnesota with 12 points apiece.

“We needed to get rebounds, we needed to get stops and we needed to make plays on the offensive end,” Borton said in the release. “That did not happen.”

But those things did happen Friday.

The Gophers cruised past James Madison 80-62 behind forward Kionna Kellogg’s career-high 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Minnesota jumped out to a 41-28 halftime lead and closed the deal with a 20-8 run late in the second half.

Banham scored 20 points, and Riche had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Saturday’s game was the closest of the three, as Missouri led the Gophers 28-23 at halftime. Then Minnesota locked in and outscored Missouri 36-26 in the second half en route to a 59-54 victory.

Banham led the way with another 20-point performance, and Kayla Hirt, who missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, scored a career-high 14 points — 10 in the second half.

“As the year has gone on, I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable in playing my role of being a scorer and helping the team in any way possible,” Hirt said in the release.

Minnesota and Missouri were tied at 53-53 with fewer than three minutes left, but Banham and Hirt hit back-to-back jumpers to help seal the win.

“A win is a win this time of the year,” Borton said. “At the end of the year, you just look in the win column and you see a W there, so it doesn’t really matter if it was pretty or not.”