Minnesota defeats Harvard and Alcorn State to win Best Buy Classic

The Gophers women’s basketball team defeated Harvard and Alcorn State over the weekend.

Minnesota guard Kiara Buford drivews down the court against Alcorn State on Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.

Minnesota guard Kiara Buford drivews down the court against Alcorn State on Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.

Adam Richard

The Gophers womenâÄôs basketball team defeated Harvard and Alcorn State over the weekend to win the Best Buy Classic and improve to 7-5 on the season.

MinnesotaâÄôs shooting percentage has been a weak point most of the season, but it improved in both games of the tournament.  The Gophers shot 48 percent for the weekend.

âÄúWe took great shots,âÄù Borton said. âÄúWeâÄôre heading in the right direction. Once we get everybody on the same page playing well on the same night, weâÄôre going to be dangerous.âÄù

Kiara Buford starred on Saturday in a 79-53 win against Harvard, netting 25 points on 11-for-14 shooting. She continued her hot streak on Sunday in a 75-46 win against Alcorn State.

Buford played more aggressively against Alcorn State, driving the ball inside and using her athleticism and strength for 11 points on only 4-for-7 shooting. She played limited minutes Sunday and let her teammates do more damage.

Buford was named MVP of the tournament.

âÄúIt feels great [to be MVP]âÄù Buford said. âÄúA lot of basketball is about the mindset. I try to feed the mindset to the team that weâÄôre going to win or dominate on the boards, whatever it may be that game and in the meantime still trying to score.âÄù

Minnesota out-rebounded Alcorn State 54-27, a game after the Gophers were out-rebounded 44-33 in their win against Harvard.

Alcorn State seemed to lack basic skills on the offensive end.  The guards had difficulty dribbling and the Lady Braves as a whole seemed confused on the court.

Alcorn StateâÄôs best statistical player is 5-foot-1-inch guard Kiara Ruffin. The Gophers held Ruffin to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.

Minnesota jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game and never looked back.

Freshman Rachel Banham scored 13 points Saturday and shared a team-high 16 points Sunday despite playing fewer minutes.

Katie Loberg continued her strong play in the post Saturday, scoring 16 points. She followed that up with a 6-point, 9-rebound performance in limited minutes Sunday.

Kionna Kellogg had a career best 16 points and 12 rebounds Sunday against Alcorn StateâÄôs small Interior defenders.

The GophersâÄô bench played a lot of minutes in the win to give the starters a rest.

Minnesota turned the ball over only six times on Saturday, but 20 times Sunday, including 10 turnovers from guard Leah Cotton. The team also committed just 23 fouls in the two wins. Turnovers and foul control are two areas Borton has said there is room for improvement.

âÄúWeâÄôre excited to top off the weekend with a win and a championship and I hope there are more championships down the road,âÄù Borton said. âÄúEach and every team weâÄôve played in the non-conference plays a completely different style, so itâÄôll get us ready for the Big Ten.âÄù

The Gophers will play Denver and New Jersey Tech before starting the Big Ten schedule Dec. 30 against Purdue.