MINNEAPOLIS - It came quite simply down to shooting.
Minnesota was hot. Northern Iowa was not.
Golden Gopher sophomore Rachel Banham shot 10-for-19 from the field on her way to a game-high 26 points as Minnesota ransacked the Panthers 86-43 on Friday night at Williams Arena.
Minnesota sprung to a 50-16 halftime lead after shooting 21-for-32 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, coasting to the non-conference victory in front of 2,853 hometown fans.
"I was really pleased with how we played after having 11 days off," said Minnesota head coach Pam Borton. "I think after 11 days off going into exams and heading into Christmas break, you really wonder how your team is going to play. I was really pleased with how we came out, showed up and played a great all-around game.
"We're getting better each and every night out."
It was the fourth win in a row for the Gophers (10-3), who round out a five-game homestand Dec. 30 against another Missouri Valley Conference foe in Creighton.
Northern Iowa (4-7) proved to be barely a challenge for the Gophers, who improved to 8-1 inside Williams Arena this season. The visiting Panthers shot a paltry 23.9 percent (11-for-46) from the field for the game - their second-lowest of the season.
UNI point guard Jacqui Kalin led the team with 11 points. Brittni Donaldson added nine and Hannah Schonhardt, a Waconia, Minn. native, contributed seven points off the bench.
Shayne Mullaney, a freshman guard for Minnesota, scored 17 points. Sari Noga added 12 points and Kayla Hirt had her first career double-double with 12 points and 12 boards for the Gophers.
Northern Iowa takes a three-game losing streak into its next outing, a Dec. 29 game at Saint Louis. The Panthers begin MVC play Jan. 4 at Illinois State.