Photo Courtesy of Gopher Sports
The Minnesota Golden Gophers were fueled by a 25-point performance from Nate Mason as they held on in double overtime against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Wednesday at Williams Arena. Jordan Murphy added 25 points and the Gophers picked up a gritty 101-89 double overtime win against the rival Hawkeyes. The Gophers picked up their fifth Big Ten win and notched consecutive victories for the first time since early January. Minnesota finally finished a close game at home, which will be a huge confidence boost for this young Gophers squad.
The Gophers used timely three-point shooting by Akeem Springs, the attacking duo of Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer, and a whopping 19 rebounds from Jordan Murphy to spark the win. They managed to fend off the Hawkeyes, despite a valiant 19 points from Iowa guard Isaiah Moss and 26 second half points by Big Ten scoring leader Peter Jok.
Nate Mason scored the first points of the game with a hesitation dribble move and a strong finish at the rim. Moments later, Akeem Springs drilled a three-pointer as Nate Mason attacked off the dribble and reversed the ball. Mason and Springs would each add three-pointers and the Gophers extended their advantage to 11-4. However, Iowa guard Isaiah Moss started to bring the Hawkeyes’ offense to life. He was fouled by Akeem Springs and completed a three-point play, pulling Iowa within four points. Moss added a dunk and a tough contested jumper to knot the game at 11. Iowa was on 7-0 run and the Gophers went nearly three minutes without scoring, until Dupree McBrayer hit a jumper to put the Gophers back on top. On the next possession, Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl came off of a screen and finished at the rim, giving the Hawkeyes a two-point advantage. The Gophers were playing very fast at times in the first half and committed several turnovers as the ball deflected out of bounds. In addition, they had trouble finishing opportunities at the rim in transition.
The first half featured six ties and nine lead changes and Minnesota continued to go back-and-forth with the Hawkeyes. Ahmad Gilbert got lost on defense as Iowa guard Isaiah Moss cut back door and slammed it down. However, Dupree McBrayer hit a contested jumper on the next possession, giving the Gophers a one-point advantage. After a few ties and lead changes, Isaiah Moss hit a three-pointer, putting the Hawkeyes on top -- 24-22 -- near the six-minute mark. It wasn’t until Minnesota went on an 11-0 run over 2:22 that the momentum started to shift in favor of the home squad. Nate Mason and Akeem Springs caught fire, Dupree McBrayer was attacking the basket, and Reggie Lynch blocked numerous shots around the rim. Amir Coffey capped the run with a steal and a beautiful pass in transition to Nate Mason. Mason finished the layup and the Minnesota led 33-24 with 3:24 left in the first half. The duo of Mason and Akeem Springs combined for 12 points each and was the spark-plug for Minnesota’s offense in the first half.
Iowa managed to pull within four points at the 1:33 mark, but a Nate Mason three-pointer, two free throws and a buzzer-beater by Jordan Murphy brought the Gophers into halftime with a 40-29 lead.
Reggie Lynch managed to play an entire half with just one foul and opened the second stanza with a tough post finish and a three-point play. The Gophers led 43-40 out of the break until Isaiah Moss hit a three-pointer to pull the Hawkeyes within ten points.
However, Amir Coffey drilled a three-pointer off the extended wing and Minnesota led 48-34. Two Iowa dunks and a layup pulled the Hawkeyes within eight points, but the Gophers put the pedal back to the ground. After a timeout by coach Richard Pitino, Jordan Murphy picked up a three-point play and the Gophers again led by 11 points. A combined five points by Peter Jok and a Jordan Bohannon three-pointer brought the Hawkeyes within five points (56-51) near the 11-minute mark. The Gophers started to get careless with the basketball and it allowed the Hawkeyes to go on a 14-0 run over 2:35 to take a 57-56 lead with 9:06 left. Akeem Springs broke the scoring run with a three-pointer, but a put back by Brady Ellingson and a Peter Jok layup gave the Hawkeyes a 61-59 advantage. Amir Coffey added two free throws, but Peter Jok drilled a three-pointer to put Iowa on top by three points.
A little later, Jordan Murphy went to the line and made two free throws to knot the game at 69 with 3:39 to play. Akeem Springs forced a steal and pushed it ahead to Amir Coffey who finished a slam dunk to put the Gophers ahead 71-70. Jordan Murphy picked up a foul and Peter Jok hit two free throws to put Iowa up 72-71. A few possessions later, Peter Jok hit a cold-blooded three-pointer over Reggie Lynch and Iowa led 75-73. However, Akeem Springs drove and kicked down low to Jordan Murphy who slammed it home. Peter Jok missed a jumper, but the ball deflected into the arms of Nicholas Baer who slammed it home. On the next possession, the Gophers tied up with Iowa on a loose ball and the possession arrow gave the ball back to Minnesota with 20.3 left. Nate Mason attacked off the dribble and finished at the rim to tie the game at 77 with nine seconds to play. Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon tried a shot at the buzzer, but it was off the mark and the game went to overtime.
In the second overtime, Jordan Murphy picked up a tough offensive rebound and finished at the rim to put the Gophers on top. Nate Mason hit an acrobatic layup and completed a three-point play, giving the Gophers an 82-77 advantage. However, on the next possession, Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl was fouled as he drove to the basket and completed the and-one situation. Nate Mason followed it up with a strong drive to the basket off a hesitation dribble and the Gophers led 84-80 with under three minutes left in the first overtime. After two Peter Jok free throws and a jumper by Jordan Bohannon, the game was tied at 84. Jordan Murphy picked up a huge steal on defense and Minnesota had possession of the ball with just over 20 seconds left. On the final play of the first overtime, Nate Mason was isolated at the top of the key and the shot clocked expired as he hurled the shot in the air. Luckily, Iowa tried a Hail Mary and Fran McCaffery didn’t have Aaron Rodgers at his disposal. The game went to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, Jordan Murphy finished down low, but Jordan Bohannon hit a long three-pointer for Iowa. Moments later, Amir Coffey drilled a tough floater in the lane, and a steal by Coffey led to a slam to put the Gophers up 90-87. Seconds later, the defense collapsed on Akeem Springs via a double team, Eric Curry found Jordan Murphy down low and he delivered a huge dunk. Minnesota led 92-87 with 2:44 left in double overtime. They never looked back, cruising to a 101-89 win in double overtime.
Coffey is a smooth passer
It has been clear all year that Amir Coffey is special a special player when he gets the ball in his hands. He creates so many opportunities for other players to be successful. Coffey had five assists in the first half alone, including a beautiful bounce pass to Nate Mason in transition. He finished with just one point in the first half, but created so many shots for his teammates. Coffey left some points at the free throw line, but is an impact player when the ball is in his hands.
Mason and McBrayer attacking
Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer were attacking the rim and hitting tough contested jumpers in the first half. McBrayer had six first half points off the bench and drilled several contested jumpers as defenders contested the shot. Nate Mason was attacking off of ball screens at the top of the key and finished with floaters and layups at the rim. Not to mention, he found Akeem Springs for several outside looks as help side defenders crashed upon him. Mason has the tendency to take some ill-advised shots, but they weren’t costly in this game. Nonetheless, the ability of Mason and McBrayer to slash the Iowa defense led to open looks behind the arch and in the paint. Mason finished with 25 points and McBrayer added 8, providing the Gophers with a nice one-two punch in the backcourt
Akeem Springs continues to be the difference-maker for the Minnesota offense. He hits timely three-pointers in rhythm and provides energy on both ends of the court. He finished the game with 17 points and has been a different player when he isn’t coming off of the bench. Springs is averaging 17 points per game since entering the starting lineup and has helped Minnesota become more efficient with their offensive possessions.
Murphy steps up
The Gophers were provided with a huge boost by Jordan Murphy in this game. He was finishing around the rim, grabbing tough rebounds, and blocking shots around the rim. Murphy had 25 points and delivered a huge dunk in double overtime to shift momentum in favor of the Gophers. It finally appeared Murphy was starting to play his style of basketball and wasn’t trying to be a player he isn’t. The second half performance by Murphy is the best basketball he has played this season. Despite some lapses on defense in the first half, his 25 points and a whopping 19 rebounds was the difference-maker in the game.
Minnesota missing shots at the rim
The Gophers left some opportunities at the rim in this game. Reggie Lynch, Jordan Murphy, and Nate Mason all had missed shots around the basket. In addition, the offense had the tendency to move too fast in transition. Amir Coffey and Dupree McBrayer both dribbled the ball off their feet as their body started to get ahead of the dribble. This happened on a few possessions and it allowed Iowa to stay close throughout the game. If the Gophers would have closed on the opportunities they had around the rim, the game wouldn’t have been nearly as close.
Later in the game, the Gophers’ guards tried to attack the press individually and it led to turnovers and easy baskets for Iowa in transition. They were getting doubled and tried to make a tough cross court pass in traffic. It took Minnesota forever to figure out they needed to attack the middle of the court. This allowed Iowa to go on a 14-0 run in the second half and kept the Gophers on their heels. Minnesota had several stagnant possessions and turnovers that kept the Hawkeyes within striking distance, but managed to hold on for their fifth Big Ten win.
The Gophers will travel to Rutgers for a matchup with the Scarlet Knights Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Tag(s): Gopher Basketball