Gophers defeat Memphis

Rachel Banham had a double-double, and her scoring record was honored.

Kaitlin Merkel

Redshirt senior guard Rachel Banham broke the program scoring record in a loss Nov. 28 against Auburn in Puerto Rico, tempering the celebration.
 
But Minnesota won on Saturday when Banham was honored at Williams Arena for her accomplishment. The Gophers defeated Memphis 70-60, and Banham led the way with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
 
Former record holder and current Minnesota Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen returned to campus to take in her first Gophers game of the season and to support Banham.
 
“It’s great to be back here. [There’s] always just a lot of really good emotions and memories,” Whalen said. “It’s just a huge accomplishment [for Banham]. She’s a great person, and I just wanted to make sure she knew that I was happy for her and supporting her and cheering her on.”
 
Banham said it was good to see the support from the home crowd during the ceremony, after breaking the record in a largely empty stadium in Puerto Rico during the San Juan Shootout.
 
“There was a lot of people there, and the fans were loud and into it, so that made it really exciting,” Banham said. “I love [Whalen]. It was a really good ceremony.” 
 
The Gophers struggled to find a rhythm after the ceremony, shooting 28.9 percent on field goals and 20 percent from three-point range in the first half.
 
Minnesota (6-2) also failed to score in the last five minutes of the second quarter as the Tigers went on a 10-0 run.
 
Memphis shot 43.8 percent on field goals in the first half and outscored the Gophers in the first and second quarters to enter halftime ahead 37-29.
 
“While [the Tigers] were ahead, we were getting the looks that we wanted, and we were getting a lot of lay-ups,” Stollings said. “We missed a lot of shots that we don’t
typically miss, and we didn’t feel like that was going to continue, and it didn’t.”
 
The Gophers started the third quarter with a 17-0 scoring run to quickly take a 48-37 lead over the Tigers. Minnesota finished the quarter with an 11-point lead after outscoring the Tigers 27-8 and rode the momentum in the fourth quarter to finish with a 10-point win.
 
“Memphis is a very quality opponent … and I was very pleased with our young ladies and how we handled their defensive presence,” Stollings said. “The 17-0 run to start the second half, obviously, was huge.”
 
Banham picked up her second straight double-double in the game and has now scored at least 20 points in all eight games this season. She’s the only player in the country to do that.
 
“We just had such great looks [in the first half] that I wasn’t worried about [the slow start]. We knew that we were going to keep getting that in the second half, especially as
they started to get tired. It became a lot easier,” Banham said.
 
Gophers sophomore guard Carlie Wagner added 21 points, while sophomore center Jessie Edwards had 11 points and six rebounds in her 17 minutes off of the bench.
Minnesota committed just nine turnovers compared to the Tigers’ 18.
 
Stollings said she was happy with her team’s defensive performance in the second half as the Gophers held Memphis to shoot 28.6 percent on field goals after halftime.
 
“I just thought we were very locked in defensively to the scout and also the improvements that we wanted to make this week,” Stollings said. “We knew we were a lot better defensive team than what we had been showing.”