After cruising in the first half with defense creating easy offense, the Minnesota Golden Gophers hold off the Washington Huskies 68-67 in overtime to advance to the NIT Championship. It was a furious comeback thanks to poorer shooting for the Gophers in the second half and plenty of controversy on non-calls that sent the game into overtime.
Rodney Williams just dominated for the Golden Gophers, showcasing a highlight reel of dunks inside of his 18 points. He did have a real efficient night going but would finish at 8-18 from the field. He also scooped up eight rebounds. Andre Hollins played great at the point, finished at 20 points and five assists, but did have five turnovers.
Terrence Ross scored 21 points and helped inside during the Huskies comeback with six rebounds. Darnell Gant had a spark entering halftime and he played great in the second half, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. CJ Wilcox also had 12 points, all coming in that same half.
After a wild finish to the second half, Andre Hollins made the first three points of the overtime, the action heated up with two minutes to go when Williams blocked a shot but Elliot Eliason turned the ball over immediately. Abdul Gaddy made the basket off the Tony Wroten steal, and both teams kept trading shots.
When Gant made a layup on a tough rebound to cut it to 68-67, Julian Welch would miss both free throws for Minnesota on the other end. Unfortunately, Washington took too many timeouts, and they couldn’t get a good shot off with three seconds spare. The second miss actually helped the Golden Gophers to win the game.
Minnesota’s field goal shooting fell down to 44.1 percent at the finish of the game after having a first half of above 50 percent. Washington hovered inside 30 percent all night, finishing at 36.6 percent after a better second half. The Huskies never had the lead in the game.
The Golden Gophers dominated in all the phases of the game in the first half. Defensive pressure forced Washington into lots of bad shots, starting off the game 1-9 from the field and had another near five minute drought. They finished the half 32.3 percent from the field, 14 of the team’s 26 points from Ross.
That defensive success for Minnesota led to great offensive execution. The team combined for 10 assists and the efficient shooting helped the team get a 15 point advantage before Gant hit the three point shot to cut the lead to 38-26 at half.
Things simply became uglier at that point for both teams. Minnesota’s efficiency dropped but they still maintained a double-digit edge through most of the half.
With almost seven minutes to go, Wilcox made the game interesting by burying a three point shot to cut the lead to 53-45. Washington’s intensity finally showed, hustling to the loose ball to create more chances.
Controversy began when Gaddy missed his three point shot at about the six minute mark, and Wilcox got the rebound and put it back in the basket. He was called for a charge even though the defender was moving, but his feet were outside of the arc under the basket.
Another charge was called at the 4:49 mark on Gant. Multiple TV camera angles didn’t give enough evidence to whether or not the defender was set or not. Amid the controversy, the Huskies were still able overcome the calls and get within striking distance to come back and win.
With a minute to go, Ross blocks Andre Hollins’ layup and then over-shoots his high-flying defender and nails the three-pointer 59-57. An unfortunate foul was called on Wroten after the play clock wound down and both teams traded free throws to make it 61-59 with about 20 seconds to go.
Joe Coleman then made two major mistakes, throwing a lazy pass that was turned over and then grabbing a jersey of a player. By rule, that is an automatic flagrant-1 that wasn’t called. Wilcox made the shot to tie the game at 61. Another foul that wasn’t called was on Andre Hollins’ miss on the next possession.
Minnesota held on for the victory in overtime, and will take on Stanford in the NIT Championship game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Coverage of the event begins at 7:00pm eastern on ESPN.
Topics: Abdul Gaddy, Andre Hollins, Arch Controversy, CJ Wilcox, Darnell Gant, Elliot Eliason, Joe Coleman, Julian Welch, Madison Square Garden, Minnesota Golden Gophers, NIT Tournament, Rodney Williams, Semifinal, Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten, Washington Huskies