Banham, Gophers burn Iowa women at the Barn

MINNEAPOLIS – The Hawkeyes were as close as they had been since the first half, and Rachel Banham made them go away with one big bucket.

The Minnesota sophomore swished a 25-footer to up Minnesota’s lead back to six with the shot clock winding down late in the second half, and the Golden Gopher women’s basketball team turned back Iowa 72-60 in Thursday’s Big Ten Conference contest inside Williams Arena.

Banham finished with a game-high 34 points, surpassing the school’s two-year scoring record while moving into 15th all-time in Gopher history. She scored 18 points in the first half and 16 more after the break to help Minnesota take the only regular-season meeting between these border rivals.

It was Minnesota’s first win over Iowa in the last five meetings.

The Golden Gophers (15-9, 4-6) led by as many as 14 points in the first half but had to hold off the Hawkeyes (16-8, 5-5) throughout the second half. Iowa scored the first six points after the intermission to get within five, and a Jaime Printy 3-pointer pulled Iowa back within single digits at the 9:47 mark.

Printy scored 12 of her team-leading 21 points after halftime, but Iowa shot 29 percent from the field and got thumped on the boards, 48-34.

“I’m very proud of the defense and the rebounding that we displayed,” said Minnesota coach Pam Borton. “Tonight we looked like a Minnesota basketball team.”

Melissa Dixon’s jumper with 3:05 remaining got Iowa within 62-59, but Banham buried the biggest of her 10 field goals on the next possession. It was a part of Minnesota’s 10-1 run to finish the game, sending the Hawkeyes to their third straight loss.

“I thought Rachel Banham was fantastic tonight,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “She was the back-breaker for us. I thought she hit some really tough shots in the first half while we were contesting her.

“The one that broke our back was the 3-point shot (late in the game). We had played really good defense for 28 seconds and then with 2 seconds left she pulls up to hit the deep three to put them up six.”

The Gophers also got 11 points from Shayne Mullaney and 10 from Kayla Hirt, while Micaella Riche had a game-high 13 rebounds.

Morgan Johnson had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds to back Printy, but the Hawkeyes could not overcome a cold shooting night and a 14-rebound deficit.

Iowa returns home for its next two games, taking on Nebraska at 7:30 p.m. Monday and No. 8 Penn State at 7 p.m. next Thursday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.