A win is a win is a win...except when it's against Iowa or Wisconsin. After losing 5 of 6 games, well, that's more than just a win, too. So, all in all, a big night at the Barn and a good good show by the Gopher women.
But, wait, there's more. The homecoming angle, for example. Now, don't get me wrong. I wish all of Minnesota's kids nothing but success no matter where they go to play college ball.... Except against the Gophers. So...Theairra Taylor and Bethany Doolittle started for the Hawkeyes and played 48 minutes between them. Kali Peschel and Kayla Timmerman came off the bench for 10 total minutes. The 4 of them scored 19 points in 58 minutes of play on 6-of-16 shooting (37.5 percent).
Our Minnesotans--and I say this in the most non-gloating way that I can muster--played about twice as many minutes (115) and scored more than 3 times as many points (62) on 21-of-42 shooting (50 percent). Ha ha ha ha ha!
Then there's the highly-recruited-guard angle. You've probably forgotten that Iowa sophomore Sam Logic was more highly rated than Minnesota sophomore guard Rachel Banham. Banham scored 34 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Logic scored 0 points on 0-for-3 shooting.
Put it all together and it was still a scary night. Minnesota led by as many as 14 points in the 1st half and by 11 at the half at 38-27. In the 2nd half the largest lead was 46-33 around the 14 minute mark. About 9 minutes later a Jamie Printy 3 got the Hawks within 3, and another 2 minutes later a Melissa Dixon 2 made it 62-59 with 3:05 to play. But 30 seconds later Banham hit a 3 on a feed from Sari Noga to make it 65-59, and a minute later Shayne Mullaney hit a 2 from Kionna Kellogg (our Iowan!) to make it 67-60. Iowa never scored again.
On the plus side, Minnesota shot 45 percent from the field, Iowa just 29 percent (18-for-63). On the minus side, Iowa scored 27 points off turnovers, the Gophers just 9, though the turnovers themselves were just 16 (for Minnesota) to 13 (for Iowa).
Banham had 9 boards to go with 34 points. Micaella Riche had 13 boards but just 6 points, all in the 1st half. Mullaney and Kayla Hirt picked up some of the slack in the 2nd half and finished with 11 and 10 points apiece.
Of course, the question presents itself--does this mean the Gophers can salvage their season? Now 4-6 in the Big 10 and 15-9 overall, the answer is probably no. 5 of their last 6 games are either on the road where they're 1-4 in the conference, or against rated teams (Penn State and Purdue). Recent experience suggests they'll win 1 or 2 of those games plus the home game vs. Northwestern. If that's the case the tally going into the Big 10 tournament will be 6-10 or 7-9 and 17-13 or 18-14. They would probably need to win the Big 10 tournament to get an NCAA tournament bid.
Which means that they and we just have to savor tonight all the more.
Player of the Day: Banham
Coach of the Day: Pam Borton