Minnesota Falls to #21/22 Wisconsin in Overtime, 68-61

Go Gophers!
Ralph Sampson III had four points and a team-high seven rebounds in the overtime loss to Wisconsin.

Go Gophers!
Ralph Sampson III had four points and a team-high seven rebounds in the overtime loss to Wisconsin.
Go Gophers!

Feb. 9, 2012

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MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit, holding Wisconsin scoreless for the final 7:43 of regulation to force overtime, but the #21/22 Badgers made 15-of-17 free throws in the extra session to escape with a 68-61 victory on Thursday night at Williams Arena.

Freshman guard Andre Hollins was instrumental in the Gophers' rally, scoring a career-high 20 points, including 18 in the second half and overtime. He made 5-of-6 three-pointers, all after the half, to help Minnesota (17-8, 5-7) work its way back from a double-digit lead the Badgers held for a majority of the second stanza.

But Wisconsin (19-6, 8-4) ended an eight-minute, 49-second scoreless stretch with a pair of free throws from Josh Gasser with 3:54 left in overtime to regain a 53-51 lead, and the Badgers missed just twice from the line to secure the win.

Jordan Taylor led all scorers with 27 points, making 8-of-14 field goals, including 5-of-9 from behind the three-point line. Ryan Evans added 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Badgers, who won in Minneapolis for the first time since a 63-47 win on Feb. 3, 2008.

Junior forward Rodney Williams was the only other Minnesota player to reach double-figures, making 7-of-13 field goals to finish with 16 points. Sophomore guard Austin Hollins added eight points, while junior guard Julian Welch had seven points and five rebounds.

Senior forward Ralph Sampson III helped Minnesota finish with a 38-34 edge in rebounding, as he pulled down a team-high seven caroms, while Andre Hollins chased down a career-best total of six boards.

Both teams started fast, with Wisconsin making five of its first six attempts and the Gophers starting the game 3-of-4. But three of the Badgers' field goals were from beyond the three-point arc, and Wisconsin built an early 13-6 lead.

But the Gophers responded by holding UW without a field goal for six minutes and 10 seconds, battling back to take a 16-14 lead on a three-pointer by Welch with 9:31 remaining in the first half.

Wisconsin finally ended its field goal drought when Taylor made his second three of the game on the next possession, putting the Badgers back in front by a score of 17-16.

Taylor then scored the next five points, including a 28-foot three-pointer that just beat the shot clock after a scramble for a loose ball, as Wisconsin stretched its lead to six points.

Minnesota pulled back within two points, 22-20, on two free throws by Sampson and a nice drive for a layup by Austin Hollins.

Once again, though, the Badgers benefitted from a lengthy three-pointer to narrowly beat an expiring shot clock, as Ben Brust heaved one from about 30 feet that found the net. Taylor then added his fourth trey in as many attempts to put the Badgers up, 30-22, and Wisconsin took a 32-24 lead to the locker room.

As a team, UW made 7-of-11 first-half three-pointers, with Taylor leading all scorers with 14 points. Inside the arc, the Badgers had a tougher time, making just 4-of-14 attempts.

Williams led Minnesota with seven points at the break, while Welch had five. Minnesota made 9-of-22 (.408) field goals in the opening 20 minutes, but the difference in the game was UW's seven treys to just one (five attempts) for the Gophers.

Williams scored to open the second half, pulling the Gophers within six. But Taylor hit another trey and the Badgers quickly extended their advantage to 11 points, 37-26.

Andre Hollins responded with a three from the top of the key to cut UW's lead to eight points, but the Badgers went on another 5-0 run behind a three-pointer from Josh Gasser to make it 42-29.

Sampson and freshman center Elliott Eliason scored to pull Minnesota back within single digits, 42-33. But the Badgers' answer was once again Taylor, who drove the length of the court for a layup and a conventional three-point play to reach 20 points for the game.

Minnesota kept chipping away at the lead, as Williams converted a three-point play to start an 8-4 run to cut UW's lead to 49-41.

After the Badgers took a 51-41 lead with 7:43 left on a basket by Jared Berggren, Minnesota began its final charge, and the Gophers went on a 10-0 run to tie the score and send the sellout crowd into a frenzy. Andre Hollins was the key to the rally, as he scored six points and assisted on a layup by Williams.

The Gophers had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Andre Hollins missed an eight-foot pull-up jumper in the lane with about five seconds left, and Austin Hollins' three-pointer from in front of the bench sailed across the rim as time expired to send the game to overtime.

In the extra session, the Badgers took advantage of great free throw shooting, missing just two of 17 attempts while shooting into a rowdy Minnesota student section. Wisconsin was just 1-of-3 from the field in overtime, but outscored the Gophers 17-10 for the victory.

The Gophers remain home for their next game, playing host to nationally-ranked Ohio State on Tuesday night. Tipoff at Williams Arena is set for 8:00 p.m. (CT), and the game will be televised live nationally on ESPN.

--By Michael Molde, GopherSports.com