Minnesota loses another, falls to Iowa

The Hawkeyes held star guard Rachel Banham to just nine points.

Minnesota guard Rachel Banham pushes through Illinois defense Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, at Williams Arena.

Daily File Photo, Emily Dunker

Minnesota guard Rachel Banham pushes through Illinois’ defense Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, at Williams Arena.

by Jack Satzinger

After 18 turnovers, 34 percent shooting and a sixth conference loss in eight games, Gophers head coach Pam Borton was brutally honest.

“It was a very poor display of basketball tonight from our team,” she said. “Just a very poor night offensively.”

Minnesota (13-9, 2-6 Big Ten) fell 64-56 to Iowa (17-5, 5-3 Big Ten) for the second time in the same month.

But the score doesn’t tell the whole story.

Borton said Minnesota was lucky to be down by just five points at the half.

That was before the Hawkeyes went on a 20-2 run to blow open the game.

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said Iowa pushed the tempo well in that stretch and didn’t settle for deep jump shots.

“We got some higher-percentage shots,” Bluder said. “We became more patient. … In the first half, I thought we took too many threes.”

Meanwhile, the Gophers were stagnant on the offensive end for most of the night.

“It just didn’t feel like we were in a rhythm,” Gophers guard Shayne Mullaney said.

Mullaney led the Gophers in scoring with 13 points and also accounted for a team-high seven assists. The sophomore took some pressure off star junior guard Rachel Banham, but not many followed suit.

Borton said her team stopped rebounding and couldn’t make easy layups during the second-half field-goal drought, which lasted more than seven minutes.

Not even Banham could get it going for Minnesota.

Banham, who leads the Big Ten in scoring, finished with just nine points and shot 25 percent from the floor.

Bluder said the Hawkeyes placed an emphasis on stopping Banham and trying to account for her on every play in order to limit her offensive success.

Gophers post players Amanda Zahui B. and Micaëlla Riché combined for seven turnovers in the first half alone.

They looked out of sorts at times against the Hawkeyes.

Riché played center for much of last season, but she moved over to the other post slot this season as Zahui B. came in and provided Minnesota with more size in its frontcourt.

That was thought to be a key to success this year, but Riché and Zahui B. haven’t developed chemistry.

The Gophers excelled when Riché and Zahui B. were paired with Kayla Hirt against Iowa. Hirt, who led the Gophers in rebounding on the night with seven, stretches the floor well with her jump shot. The Bemidji native scored 10 points against Iowa.

Hirt played more minutes off the bench than Riché did Wednesday, which could be a sign of things to come.

With the Gophers struggling, Borton alluded to the fact that she might switch up the starting lineup.

“We’ve been thinking about that for a few games,” Borton said. “That’s still in conversation right now.”