Gophers women break out of slump with blowout win over Denver

  • Article by: AARON PAITICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2012 - 11:59 PM

Rachel Banham scored 21 points and Micaella Riche had 19 as Minnesota took control from the start.

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InformedOneDec. 6, 12 6:48 AM

One down, four to go. While it's true that the post play was much improved, Denver is also a significantly smaller team with only four players 6'0" or taller (the tallest being 6'2" and none as muscular as Riche). I'll have to give the Gophers credit for a much better effort this year vs. last year against this team when they were out-rebounded by 9,, though. Banham was incredible (check the stat line) - she had at least four pull-ups, drives or shots of screens that I'm positive no team in the country would have stopped. She is the rock of this team and her presence alone gives them a chance in any game the Gophers play. The Gophers need to win out the non-conference going into B1G play with an 11-3 record because I think this is going to be a tough year. While there are no super-elite teams, the league is solid top to bottom (even Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois will be challenging). The Big Ten is the only league in the country with 10 teams with 6 or more wins and no teams with losing records. There will be no nights off this year and the Gophers will play home and homes against all four teams currently ranked in the AP top 25 as well as starting the season on the road against currently undefeated Michigan State. If the Gophers win 20 games this year, they will have earned them. I still think that 9-7 is a median expectation for B1G play for this team, however. A few nice wins against top 25 competition and no slip ups in winnable games and I think they could do 10-6 or better. We'll have to wait and see. One thing is for sure - there are no Denvers on the schedule after B1G play starts so the Gophers have to get every win they can closing out the non-conference.

raymondb62Dec. 6, 12 8:01 AM

I give the ladies credit for dominating a team they were expected to dominate. Riche got the work done inside and even Loberg contributed some nice minutes from the bench. Banham will continue to be the leading scorer for the team, which can be a problem if she starts to press herself and doesn't look to get her teammates involved early in games. I'm still baffled by Coach B's stategy, though. She looking at 3 games in the next 5 days and being shorthanded with Bailey out of the lineup, plus we're up by 30 in this game. I know, let's continue to play my starting backcourt 32-35 minutes per game and use the bench as sparingly as possible. Does that make sense to anyone??

InformedOneDec. 6, 12 4:49 PM

@raymondb62 - not really. But Leah was foul prone (surprise) and Bailey was unavailable. Unfortunately, she really doesn't have a whole lot of subs in the guard position at this point. Being up by 30, though I think I would have felt more comfortable with Mullaney, Cotton, Hirt, Johnson and Riche spelled by Loberg as the primary lineup. I guess I'm less concerned about keeping the guards fresh as keeping them healthy and the Gophers can't afford to lose any of their key players at this point. Besides, it's nice to work Hirt into the mix and start giving Johnson some more minutes for game time experience. Denver was not a pure cupcake (200+ RPI), but the Gophers had the game enough in hand to sub in some of the players that would have benefited from extra minutes during the non-conference. JMHO.

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