When Northwestern played Minnesota Jan. 20, Gophers’ redshirt senior Rachel Banham scored 32 points, leading her team to a 95-92 win.
This time, she did even better.
Banham dropped a career-high and Big Ten record 60 points, willing Minnesota (16-7, 8-5 B1G) to a 112-106 2OT victory over NU (14-10, 3-9 B1G). Banham even tied the NCAA women’s basketball record for most points scored in a single game.
WATCH: Two words: Rachel. Banham. https://t.co/JGZUrlAy3P— Minnesota WBB (@GopherWBB) February 7, 2016
“[Banham] hit some tough shots,” senior Maggie Lyon said. “She’s a good player. It was hard fought, coach was saying how we can be disappointed but not discouraged because we played our hearts out.”
The Wildcats held a lead for most of regulation, and even led 63-56 going into the fourth quarter. But the Gophers scrapped their way back, forcing overtime. NU led by as much as five in OT, but once again, Minnesota came back and forced a second overtime period.
Both Ashley Deary and Nia Coffey fouled out in the second OT, and Banham’s herculean performance was simply too much for the Wildcats.
“It’s frustrating because you play at home, control a lot of the game and are up at halftime,” head coach Joe McKeown said. “I feel like we were doing a lot of good things, but got in foul trouble and we had a player go off on us, that we can’t let happen.”
A slightly more balanced attack led the ‘Cats, as five players scored in double digits. Lyon tied a career-high with 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while Coffey recorded 28 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Deary had 22 points, 11 assists and six steals.
Senior Lydia Rohde stepped up off the bench, nailing three three-pointers and scoring 10 points.
Freshman Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah had five points and racked up a monster 16 boards, eight of them offensive rebounds. NU won the offensive rebounding battle 22-to-9 and had 20 second-chance points combined to Minnesota’s four. But once Kunaiyi-Akpanah fouled out in the first overtime, the Wildcats’ seemed to miss her presence down low.
“[Kunaiyi-Akpanah] is an awesome rebounder,” Coffey said. “We definitely missed out on some opportunities.”
The loss is another heartbreaker for NU, its eighth defeat in 10 games. Big Ten play has been a nightmare for the ‘Cats, as they continue to dwell in the bottom of the conference. Today reaffirmed a common theme for the Wildcats – most of the time they are right there, but just can’t get the victory.
“We are just really disappointed because we played our hearts out,” McKeown said. “Give Minnesota credit, they made a couple more plays than us. There were a lot of scenarios that could have went eight different ways but just didn’t go our way.”
NU has six games remaining and will then play in the Big Ten Tournament. For the Wildcats to be successful down the stretch and right the ship, they must close out games and limit their mistakes late.
“We have to bounce back, we have tough kids, and we have to find ways in February to win those games,” McKeown said. “You saw how hard we played, I think there was a lot of fight. We have a lot to look forward to and we are sitting here with plenty of opportunities to get back in the Big Ten race.”
The ‘Cats will try to get a much-needed win on Wednesday, Feb. 10 when they travel to Rutgers.