Gophers' Zahui B. is player of week

Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.

Numbers -- even really gaudy ones -- do not alone secure someone winning espnW's national player of the week honor.

But when you put up mega-gaudy numbers and help your team win two crucial league games, you have a pretty good case for the award. And so for the second time this season, we give kudos to Minnesota center Amanda Zahui B., who filled up the stat sheet -- and then some -- this past week.

Tuesday, the "Big Z" piled up 39 points and 29 rebounds in the Gophers' 93-80 upset of No. 13 Iowa. Both were career highs for the sophomore, and the latter was also Big Ten record.

Then Saturday, Zahui nearly matched her rebounding mark, grabbing 27 boards, and also had 27 points as the Gophers held off Michigan 91-88 in double overtime. In the two games, Zahui was a combined 26-of-48 from the field and 12-of-13 from the line.

Oh, and Zahui also had nine blocked shots in the two games, giving her 109 this season. So she has already broken the single-season school record in blocks that she set last season as a freshman.

With guard Rachel Banham being lost for the season with a knee injury on Dec. 10, the Gophers have had to rely all the more on their interior game. That has worked pretty well. Zahui is now averaging 18.6 points and 12.7 rebounds for Minnesota, which is 22-6 overall and 11-5 in the Big Ten.

The Gophers are now in a four-way tie for third place in the league with Rutgers, Ohio State and Northwestern.

Minnesota has a tough finish to the regular season, going on the road against ranked teams Nebraska (Tuesday) and Iowa (Sunday). But with the way Zahui is playing, look out for the Gophers in those contests and heading into the Big Ten tournament.

Also nominated: Youngstown State senior forward Heidi Schlegel also put up huge stats this past week, as she had back-to-back performances of 38 points in the Penguins' victories over Milwaukee and Valparaiso. She made 30-of- 44 field goals and also averaged 9.5 rebounds in the two games.

Previous honorees: Nov. 24: Stanford's Thompson | Dec. 1: Chattanooga's Gilbert | Dec. 8: UConn's Tuck | Dec. 15: Notre Dame's Loyd | Dec. 22: Duke's Williams | Dec. 29: Ohio State's Mitchell | Jan. 5 Minnesota's Zahui B. | Jan. 12: Miami's Motley | Jan. 19: LSU's Ballard | Jan. 26: Oregon State's Weisner | Feb. 2: Oregon's Alleyne | Feb. 9: Florida State's Bulgak | Feb. 16: UConn's Jefferson