It hasn’t been a pretty start to the Gophers women’s basketball team’s season. Still, the team has shown an ability to win sloppy games — and it did just that in Saturday’s 65-40 victory against Binghamton in the first game of the Subway Classic at Williams Arena.
While Minnesota’s offense battled through early-season roughness, its defense forced 21 turnovers and kept the Gophers in control for most of the game.
Missed layups and sloppy defense defined the first half, but the Gophers went on a 19-3 run to take a 35-22 lead into the break. They maintained their intensity in the second half, and never led by fewer than nine points.
“I thought our defense really held our fort down for a majority of the game,” Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. “Obviously, our offense has a long ways to go — it usually does this time of the year. Our defense and our rebounding is way ahead of our offense, and we’ve got a lot of work to do [on offense].”
Sari Noga led Minnesota with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
Noga shot 3-for-17 last weekend, when the Gophers went 1-2 in the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tipoff in Daytona Beach, Fla. On Saturday, she said she was able to play better by being more aggressive on both ends of the floor.
“I think I brought some toughness. It was just something we needed today,” Noga said. “I 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.”
Kiara Buford added 11 points, five rebounds and five assists, and had just one turnover.
Freshman point guard Rachel Banham shot 3-for-6 in the first half, but missed all five of her shots in the second half. She finished with nine points, eight rebounds, five assists and three turnovers.
The Gophers won the rebounding battle 46-35, and committed just 12 turnovers’ to the Bearcats’ 21. They also dominated the transition game, scoring 19 fast break points and applying full-court pressure throughout the second half.
Minnesota will play in the championship game of the Subway Classic on Sunday at a time to be determined later today.