Minnesota handles Loyola 80-36

The Gophers’ bench got involved in the game more than it has in past games.

Jack Satzinger

After last Sunday’s win against Navy, head coach Pam Borton said teams were going to start planning for Amanda Zahui B.

On Tuesday night, Loyola (2-4) did just that, and the Gophers (5-1) took advantage, beating the Ramblers 80-36.

“I think they had a tough time matching up with Amanda and Micaëlla Riché,” Borton said. “We’re big, and they’re not. … I thought we did a great job of making shots.”

Minnesota dissected Loyola’s 2-3 zone early, whipping quick passes across the court that resulted in open threes.

The Gophers’ first three made baskets were three-pointers from Sari Noga and Rachel Banham.  Banham finished with a game-high 17 points.

Minnesota held a 48-26 rebounding advantage, largely in part to Zahui B. and Riché’s efforts. Riché had eight rebounds, and Zahui B. finished with 10 boards.

With an early lead, Minnesota utilized its bench more than it has in previous games. In the game against Navy, six Gophers played 197 out of a possible 200 minutes. But Tuesday night, nine players took up those minutes, and Minnesota’s bench had a big impact.

The Gophers had 35 bench points behind 14-point efforts from both Kayla Hirt and Stabresa McDaniel. McDaniel, a freshman, recorded a career-high in points.

“I think I did a pretty good job coming off the bench,” McDaniel said. “Playing defense, [hitting] my shot and doing the little things.”

Hirt got hot in the second half, rattling off a string of buckets in a row. She finished an efficient 7-for-11 from the field.

“It was nice to get some open looks and not have anyone on me,” Hirt said. “I think with the zone, it’s just me knocking down corner shots.

“They’re trying to pack it in with Amanda and [Riché] inside, and I’m going to be left open quite a bit this season.”

With Minnesota’s bench handling the lead, some of the Gophers’ starters were able to rest down the stretch.

Nobody on the roster played more than 26 minutes after a few players had regularly been on the court for all 40 minutes.  That’s big for the Gophers, who have a busy week ahead of them.

Minnesota will play three games in Hawaii this weekend, starting Friday night against Chattanooga. 

“We got a lot of players some time today, and that’s important with five games in eight days,” Borton said. “It was good to get some other people some rest.”