Women’s Basketball: Minnesota’s Rachel Banham ties NCAA scoring record in win over Northwestern


Keshia Johnson/The Daily Northwestern

Rachel Banham takes a jumpshot. The Minnesota guard tied an NCAA record with 60 points during Sunday’s game.

Will Ragatz, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

Northwestern tried everything to slow down Rachel Banham. The Wildcats rotated defenders, sent double teams and were in her face just about every time she shot the ball. But none of it worked.

Banham, Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer, made more history Sunday afternoon. She tied an NCAA record with 60 points in the Gophers’ (16-7, 8-4 Big Ten) 112-106 double overtime victory over NU (14-10, 3-9). The senior guard shot 19-for-32 from the field, including eight 3-pointers, and knocked down 14 free throws.

“There were times where she just, no matter who we put on her, she just started making shots,” said Wildcats’ coach Joe McKeown.

It was a performance that was nothing short of incredible. Every time Minnesota needed to score, Banham stepped up and delivered. She scored through contact, hitting contested jumpers and even banked in a deep 3 at one point.

NU senior guard Maggie Lyon summed up Banham’s performance with a bit of an understatement.

“She hit some tough shots,” Lyon said.

Banham, who put up 32 points in Minnesota’s win over NU on Jan. 20, scored 20 points in the first half to keep the Gophers close. In the third quarter, she managed just 4 points. Then came the fourth quarter, and Banham took it up a notch.

With NU leading 65-56 early in the fourth, Banham switched into fifth gear. In three consecutive possessions, she knocked down a 3, a mid-range jumper and another 3. After the second 3, she stole the ball on defense, went coast-to-coast for a layup, was fouled and knocked down the free throw to put Minnesota ahead 67-66. Banham scored every point in an 11-1 Minnesota run that lasted just 1:38.

“We really needed this win,” Banham said in a postgame interview with the Big Ten Network. “I just knew I needed to take over the game.”

Banham finished with 18 points in the fourth as the Gophers caught up and sent the game to overtime, but Minnesota would need her heroics again.

With 42 seconds to play, Lyon hit two free throws to put NU up 92-87. In response, Banham sprinted down the court and knocked down her eighth 3-pointer. She then rebounded a missed shot by junior forward Nia Coffey and tied the game on a layup three seconds before the buzzer for her ninth and tenth points of the period.

In the second overtime, Banham scored 8 more points to win the game for Minnesota and tie the single-game scoring record.

“It was crazy,” Banham said to BTN. “My teammates set me up so well, and I was just feeling really good.”

There were some doubts about whether or not Banham would even be playing this year. In 2014-15, her senior season, Banham suffered a torn ACL in Minnesota’s 10th game. She received a medical hardship waiver and decided to come back for one more season.

On Sunday, the fifth-year star was simply unstoppable.

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Twitter: @WillRagatz