Gophers win Subway Classic Tournament

Minnesota held opponents Binghamton and NDSU to 81 points on the weekend.

Minnesota forward Katie Loberg and guard Sari Noga defend against the Binghamton Bearcats  during the womens 2011 Subway Basketball Classic on Saturday at Williams Arena. The Gophers defeated the Bearcats 65-40.

Minnesota forward Katie Loberg and guard Sari Noga defend against the Binghamton Bearcats during the women’s 2011 Subway Basketball Classic on Saturday at William’s Arena. The Gophers defeated the Bearcats 65-40.

by Adam Richard

The Gophers womenâÄôs basketball team defeated North Dakota State 80-41 on Sunday in the Subway Classic championship and improved to 3-2 on the season.

Minnesota dominated the glass, forced 26 turnovers and played tough defense in the lopsided championship win.

The Gophers defeated Binghamton 65-40 on Saturday behind Sari NogaâÄôs hot shooting to propel them to SundayâÄôs title game.

âÄúIâÄôm really happy with where weâÄôre at,âÄù Borton said after SundayâÄôs win. âÄúI think we have a team that isnâÄôt going to settle. We have a team that has bought in.âÄù

In the win over NDSU, Minnesota went on a 21-0 run that lasted nearly 10 minutes to jump-start the team to a 39-16 lead at halftime. That allowed the Gophers to put the game in cruise control in the second half.

Freshman Rachel Banham played inconsistently on Saturday but showed flashes of her abilities Sunday. She scored 23 points and had 17 rebounds for the tournament. She was most effective in transition and showed room for improvement in her half-court game.

âÄúShe needs to work through some things,âÄù Borton said. âÄúI think sheâÄôs doing a great job. SheâÄôs pushing tempo and keeping our team playing fast, and thatâÄôs what we want to do.âÄù

Kiara Buford only shot 7-for-20 on the weekend but had nine rebounds, six assists and eight steals. Buford has scored in double digits in every game this season and was named the Subway Classic Tournament MVP.

Minnesota used its size advantage over the weekend to out-rebound its opponents 101-76. The Gophers also shot 41 percent during the tournament âÄî an improvement from last weekend.

âÄúObviously, our offense has a long ways to go âÄî it usually does this time of the year,âÄù Borton said. âÄúOur defense and our rebounding is way ahead of our offense, and weâÄôve got a lot of work to do [on offense].âÄù

Noga was the highlight Saturday, when she scored 16 points and shot 7-for-13. She followed that up with an 11-point performance Sunday that included some intense defense.

âÄúI think I brought some toughness. It was just something we needed today,âÄù Noga said after SaturdayâÄôs win. âÄúI was more aggressive compared to last weekend in taking the ball to the basket and learning to finish a little bit better. [I got] my confidence up by getting some shots in the lane.âÄù

The Bison only shot 26 percent Sunday night. A small student group heckled North Dakota loudly throughout the game, and their chants grew with each missed shot.

Minnesota allowed the Bison 12 offensive rebounds, but that was 10 fewer than the GophersâÄô total of 22.

The victories were a team effort with significant contributions inside from Katie Loberg and drives from the perimeter by Leah Cotton. MinnesotaâÄôs bench scored 49 points, 34 of which came Sunday.