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Banham gets medical waiver, will return to Gophers next season

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Rachel Banham's season-ending knee injury won't end her career with the Gopher women's basketball team.

The Star Tribune reports that the senior guard from Lakeville was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA and she'll be eligible to play as a fifth-year senior in 2015-16.

“I’ve decided to finish my unfinished business on the court,’’ said Banham, who made the announcement at a press conference on Friday. “I have a lot of stuff unfinished: NCAA tournament, records, being with my teammates. I love my team, and I want to be able to finish on the court with my jersey on, not on the sidelines.’’

Teammate Carlie Wagner's photo on Twitter backed up the Star Tribune's report that Banham's announcement was met with a thunderous round of a applause and excitement.

Before tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee against North Dakota on Dec. 10, Banham was averaging 20 points, 5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. She was the Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and a National Player of the Year candidate, according the Gophers.

Even without Banham the No. 21 Gophers have gotten off to a 16-3 start – the best start to a season in school history. They had only two defeats prior to losing a heartbreaker in overtime against Purdue on Thursday night.

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