Coleman Leads Minnesota to 80-66 Victory at Penn State

Go Gophers! Rodney Williams had 14 points and a team-best eight rebounds in the win at PSU.
Go Gophers!
Rodney Williams had 14 points and a team-best eight rebounds in the win at PSU.
Go Gophers!

Jan. 15, 2012

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Freshman guard Joe Coleman led all scorers with a career-high 23 points to lead Minnesota to an 80-66 victory at Penn State on Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota (14-5, 2-4), which won at nationally-ranked Indiana on Thursday night, won back-to-back games on the road in the Big Ten for the first time since three years to the day. The win also moved the Gophers out of a tie in the standings with Penn State, which fell to 9-10 overall and 1-5 in the conference.

In his third career start for the Gophers, Coleman made 5-of-8 field goals and was 13-of-14 at the free throw line, with his lone miss coming in his final attempt. He added five rebounds in 36 minutes. Coleman's previous career-high had been 14 points during his first career start, the 79-66 loss to Purdue on Jan. 8.

Three other Minnesota players reached double-figures, as junior guard Julian Welch finished with 15 points, junior forward Rodney Williams had 14, and sophomore guard Austin Hollins added 12. Williams led the Gophers with eight rebounds, while freshman center Elliott Eliason came offb the bench to grab six boards and score four points.

As a team, Minnesota attempted just 38 field goals, compared to 60 attempts for the Nittany Lions. But the Gophers made 21-of-38 (.553), while PSU was held to 30 percent (18-of-60). The Gophers also shot well from the perimeter by making 5-of-10 three-pointers, and connected on 33-of-44 free throws.

Minnesota jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, keyed by a three-pointer from Welch, and held the Nittany Lions without a field goal for the first four-plus minutes.

But Penn State heated up, as Cammeron Woodyard and Tim Frazier each knocked down three-pointers to give the Nittany Lions a 20-13 lead. Woodyard, who came into the game averaging 7.5 ppg, scored 11 of PSU's first 20 points.

After Frazier made his second three of the afternoon to give the Nittany Lions a 23-15 lead, Minnesota started to heat up from long-range, as well. Welch made a trey from the left wing, and Chip Armelin added another on the next possession to pull the Gophers within two points.

Minnesota tied the score at 25-25 on back-to-back layups by Coleman on nice passes each time from Ralph Sampson III. But Frazier, who entered the game with just 12 treys this season, hit his third of the first half to keep PSU in front.

Coleman scored again to cut the deficit to a single point, then added a pair of free throws to give him eight-straight points and put the Gophers back in front, 29-28. Armelin added a runner in the lane, and Coleman hit two more from the line to make it a 33-28 advantage.

At the half, Minnesota led by a score of 33-31, with Coleman leading the team with 12 points. The Gophers shot 56 percent (10-of-18) from the field, which included making three of their six attempts from beyond the arc.

After the break, Coleman picked up right where he left off, scoring Minnesota's first six points to surpass his previous career-high of 14 points. He showed off his leaping ability by driving the lane and throwing down a two-handed dunk for a 37-33 lead.

Following Minnesota's next offensive possession, PSU's Matt Glover grabbed the rebound on a missed shot by Coleman, but was whistled for a flagrant foul after taking out his frustration by throwing an elbow at the Gophers' freshman guard.

Coleman stepped to the line made both free throws, and Rodney Williams followed with a dunk to put the Gophers up 41-33. Austin Hollins then made it an 11-0 run by knocking down a trey from in front of the Minnesota bench.

Perhaps inspired by the flagrant foul call, the Nittany Lions responded by holding the Gophers scoreless for a stretch of 5:31 and cut the lead to three points during an 8-0 run.

But Coleman scored on a layup off an inbounds pass to break the drought and reach 20 points for the first time in his career. Williams was then fouled intentionally on a fast break, and made both free throws, before Austin Hollins made another three-pointer for a ten-point lead.

Eliason followed by converting on a three-point play, and sophomore guard Maverick Ahanmisi made a free throw to give the Gophers their second 11-0 run of the half and a 55-41 lead.

A jumper by Welch with 7:01 remaining put the Gophers comfortably in front, 60-47. But Penn State wouldn't go away, chipping away at the lead with five free throws until Jermaine Marshall made a three from the top of the key and then scored in the lane to cut it to 62-57.

But Williams and Welch combined to score the next 10 points for the Gophers to stretch it back to a 12-point lead at 72-60 with 1:48 left on the clock. Minnesota added more free throws during a decisive 15-4 run to tke a 77-61 lead on their way to the victory.

Woodyard led the Nittany Lions with a career-high 22 points, while Frazier scored 20 and dished out a game-high five assists. Marshall finished with 12 points and five boards, but he was a dismal 4-of-19 from the field, including just 2-of-9 from three-point range.

Sampson fought through foul trouble to lead Minnesota with five blocked shots, while also grabbing five boards, scoring four points, and having three assists. Austin Hollins paced the Gophers with five assists in the game.

Minnesota now has one week to prepare for Northwestern, which visits Williams Arena next Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 3:00 p.m. (CT), and the game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

--By Michael Molde, GopherSports.com