Banham Nets 60, then Scores Two Encores

Rachel Banham is mobbed by teammates and staff after hitting the game-winning shot.

It was a performance for the ages. On Super Bowl Sunday, Rachel Banham tied an NCAA record with 60 points in a two-overtime thriller at Northwestern, a game the Gophers won 112-106. It garnered Banham all sorts of national publicity, including multiple Player of the Week honors and a tweet from NBA superstar Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers.

Banham scored 20 points in the first half and 22 in the second, and tacked on 18 points in the two five-minute overtime periods. She shot 19 of 32, was 8 for 15 from three-point range, and was 14 of 16 from the line. In the process she obliterated the Minnesota women’s scoring record (44) and the Big Ten record (49), as well

How do you follow up a game like that? Banham scored 32 points the next time out at home against Nebraska (February 11)—as Minnesota recorded its seventh win in eight games. For the senior guard, the ticker continued: two games, 92 points.

And the encore? On Presidents Day evening, in front of a season-high 6,167 fans at Williams Arena, Banham hit a fading-to-her-left three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Iowa 78-76. It sent her teammates and fans at the Barn into a frenzy, and added to her statistically improbable and phenomenal run of 127 points in three games.

That performance also made her the second highest scorer in Big Ten history (2,840 points), surpassing Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender, and vaulted her into the top 20 all-time in the NCAA. And it earned her yet another tweet from Bryant, which read in part, “Clutch @rachelbanham15 not many players can side fade, let alone for game winner…”

Said Banham after the game: “I got open on the left and just kind of let it fly. It was funny because I didn’t even see it go in, but then I heard the crowd and I was like, ‘Yay!’”

Update: Banham had another encore in store, scoring 52 points in a loss at Michigan State on Feb. 21. With that performance she bacame the Big Ten's all-time leading scorer with 2,921 points, surpassing the mark held by Penn State's Kelly Mazzante (2001-04).