By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Gophers women’s basketball team beat Air Force Wednesday night at Williams Arena and once again they were led by freshman Rachel Banham with 18 points. She’s definitely making her presence felt on the floor.

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Rachel Banham was drawing rave reviews before coming to the University of Minnesota, when she starred at Lakeville North in leading the Panthers to a state title as a junior.

Banham knows there are high expectations but she likes the challenge of competing at the next level.

“I feel pretty comfortable, I mean we’ve been practicing a lot and I’m used to playing with some of these girls. Just like getting into it and being able to know where they are and having them feed off me,” Bantam said. “I think us coming together is coming along really fast so I think that’s why I look more comfortable out there. Everyone is meshing really well.”

The first year player has stepped right into a starting role with the Gophers at point guard and her teammates are impressed with her seemingly smooth transition.

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“Rachel has done a fantastic job. I think any freshman coming in having to play a lot, it’s hard. But her basketball IQ is really strong,” said Jackie Voigt.

“She comes in and you don’t have to teach her much. I think she catches on very quickly,” said guard Kiara Buford. “Her ability to get out to shooters and score herself really helps our team.”

Gophers head coach Pam Borton likes the freshman’s on-court style and is looking for her to continue improving her game.

“She’s going to eventually be a coach on the floor for us. She’s just an all-around great player and it’s nice to be able to have a player like that where we can play more up tempo basketball,” Borton said.

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“I think I’m adjusting to it pretty well and getting into it,” Banham said. “After these first few games I’m getting way more comfortable with it and just doing what I need to do.”

Mike Max