Many Gopher fans have expressed outrage that the team chose to play in the WBI rather than the NIT. The WBI afforded the Gophers 4 home games against mid-majors (or less) Charleston Southern (won 80-51), Bradley (won 85-59), Manhattan (won 67-54) and now Northern Iowa. The Gophers were the only BCS school in the 16-team field. Some have said, So they beat teams they're supposed to beat.
Well, when was the last time they beat 4 straight teams that they were supposed to beat? I figure, enjoy it. I hope the team did.
Minnesota started slowly, falling behind 12-6, 19-10, 34-24 and 40-28. At the half Northern Iowa led 41-32. Northern then extended its led to 49-36 early in the 2nd half, but the Gophers stormed back to tie at 55-all (a 19-6 run) as Rachel Banham scored 6 and Jackie Voigt 4.
Minnesota scored 5 more points, a 3 by Sari Noga and another 2 by Banham, extending the run to 24-6 and the Gophers' 1st lead since 4-3 to 60-55, before Northern scored again. 3 minutes later it was 69-59. Game over.
Banham closed out a spectacular freshman season with 26 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists and was named to the all-WBI tournament team. Kiara Buford closed out her Gopher career with 14 points, 6 assists and 4 steals and was named WBI tournament MVP. Noga, Voigt and Micaella Riche alsoscored in double figures while Riche led all players with 8 boards.
For the 4 games, Banham had 62 points, 9 boards, 14 assists and 8 steals. Buford had 52 points, 7 boards, 17 assists, 6 steals and 3 blocked shots.
Minnesota finished with a winning record (19-17) the only way possible, by winning all 4 WBI games.
For the record, here are the minutes played per game by position in these 4 games.
Center--Riche (soph.) 21 Loberg (jr.) 16 Dvorak (redshirt soph.) 3
Power Forward--Kellogg (soph.) 22 Voigt (sr.) 17 N. Mastey (sr.) 1
Small Forward--B. Mastey (sr.) 21 Noga (soph.) 17.5 N. Mastey (sr.) 1.5
Point Guard--Banham (fr.) 30 Cotton (jr.) 10
Shooting Guard--Buford (sr.) 28.5 Cotton (jr.) 7.5 Ionescu (fr.) 2 Noga (soph.) 2
To replace Buford, B. Mastey and Voigt next year you've got Kayla Hirt (redshirt fr.), Jackie Johnson (fr.) and Shayne Mullaney (fr.). I'm guessing something like this:
Center--Riche (jr.) 21 Loberg (sr.) 16 Dvorak (redshirt jr.) 3
Power Forward--Kellogg (jr.) 27 J. Johnson (fr.) 13 (Shonte Clay?)
Small Forward--Hirt (redshirt fr.) 26 Noga (jr.) 14
Point Guard--Banham (soph.) 30 Cotton (sr.) 10
Shooting Guard--Mullaney (fr.) 22 Cotton (sr.) 15 Noga (jr.) 2 Ionescu (soph.) 1 (M. Bailey?)
Comparing 2012 to 2013, the Gophers are really really really going to miss Kiara Buford. The other seniors, no disrespect intended, can be replaced.