Just how everyone drew it up in November.
A Gopher basketball season filled with high expectations ended with a 65-54 loss to Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The early exit marks the first time since the 1950-51 season Minnesota will not play a game in March.
Nothing seemed to go right the entire night for the Gophers.
Minnesota opened the game by going ten minutes without a field goal (0-for-9) until Dupree McBrayer drilled a tough runner on the baseline. The Gophers managed to make eight free throws to help fend off their early shooting drought. Rutgers led by as many as five points until Isaiah Washington hit a pair of jumpers and Nate Mason found the net, knotting the game at 22. The Gophers eventually went 6-for-14 after starting the game 0-for-9 from the floor. However, Rutgers took a seven-point lead into halftime behind 15 quick points by Corey Sanders.
Minnesota managed to cut the Rutgers lead to 42-37 with 12:04 left, following five turnovers in a four-minute span by the Scarlet Knights. Freshman Isaiah Washington led the team with 18 points, scoring ten in the second half. He continued to play well down the stretch as his minutes increased.
Later in the second half, Dupree McBrayer ran the entire length of the floor, dishing to Jordan Murphy for a slam to pull the Gophers within two points. McBrayer battled through injury, executing numerous hustle plays, but Rutgers managed to pull ahead for a 11-point victory.
The Scarlet Knights dominated the glass all night, leading the rebounding margin 47-28, including 17 second chance points. They led the Big Ten, averaging 13 offensive rebounds per game and snatched 15 on Wednesday night. Rutgers also controlled the paint, outscoring the Gophers 16-4 inside in the first half. The low-post game was almost non-existent for Minnesota after Jordan Murphy picked up his second foul at the 13:07 mark of the first half.
Nate Mason also struggled, starting the game 0-for-5, before hitting three shots late in the first half. He finished with 12 points, ending his career with the Gophers by finishing fifth on the all-time scoring list. The Gophers’ offense lacked rhythm as the team tallied just two assists over the first 20 minutes. They finished with just six the entire night as their offense couldn’t get into any rhythm.
A Gophers season filled with injuries, a suspension and disappointment ended as they lost 11 of their final 12 Big Ten games. Minnesota finished 15-17 overall with just four Big Ten wins.
In November, a top-15 ranking had fans thinking ahead, but instead, the Gophers won’t even play a game in March for the first time in 67 years.
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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball