The Minnesota Golden Gophers only played one game in the week of Dec. 19-25, an easy victory against New Jersey Institute of Technology last Thursday.
However, the Big Ten Conference is not shy about awarding players with just one stat line, indicated by Iowa’s Morgan Johnson claiming Player of the Week honors earlier this month.
The absence of a weekly quota helped Gophers (8-6) freshman Rachel Banham pick up her second Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor in the last three weeks.
Banham scored 20 points in the victory over NJIT, marking just the third time a Minnesota player has scored 20 or more in a game this season. The Lakeville native also added seven rebounds and four assists, benefiting from a timid NJIT defense that did not box out or attack the basket in the early minutes of last Thursday’s game.
Although Banham remains inconsistent in shooting efficiency and is among Big Ten leaders in turnovers, she has provided Minnesota with a far more versatile threat than any point guard in recent history through the non-conference portion of the season.
Scoring 20 points is virtually routine for Ohio State (13-0) junior guard Tayler Hill. She and Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper both received Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Hill picked up her second award for her offense in No. 9/13 Ohio State’s three victories last week.
Against Charlotte, Southern Utah and Washington State, the 5-foot-10 Minneapolis native scored 25, 24, and 21 points respectively.
Those numbers allowed Hill to maintain first place in the Big Ten in scoring, where she currently averages 21.2 points per game. Although she can no longer claim sole residence of an average above 20 points, Hill has now led the conference in scoring for four consecutive weeks while ranking 13th in the NCAA.
Hill notched another item on her college resumé In last Wednesday’s win over Washington State, crossing the 1,000-point plateau. She was Ohio State’s 30th player in to earn a four-digit point total.
Her marksmanship continues to flourish. Hill shot 62 percent from the field in the last three games, bumping her season average to 50.8 percent, the third highest in the Big Ten Conference for that category. She holds a virtual tie for third in three-point shooting as well, draining 41.3 percent of her attempts beyond the arc. Hill’s free throw shooting is holding steady, where her 84 percent clip is ranked ninth in the Big Ten.
Although points have been Hill’s specialty going back to her high school days at Minneapolis South, she holds a sixth place Big Ten ranking in steals with 31, which also leads her own Ohio State team.
Her evolution is allowing the Buckeyes to grow in the absence of a traditional post player, as they finished the non-conference portion of their schedule without a loss for just the second time in school history. Hill was in elementary school when Ohio State last went unscathed in non-conference play, back in the 2000-01 season.