Gophers' Season Ends with NIT Title Game Loss to Stanford

Go Gophers! Rodney Williams led Minnesota with 12 points before fouling out.
Go Gophers!
Rodney Williams led Minnesota with 12 points before fouling out.
Go Gophers!

March 29, 2012

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The Stanford Cardinal ended the Gophers' postseason run 75-51 to win the NIT title on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Stanford forced two turnovers to open the second half to take a 10-point lead and stayed up by double figures the rest of the way. The Golden Gophers turned it over 22 times.

The third-seeded Cardinal (26-11) won their second NIT title, the first coming in 1991.

Both teams got off to a hot start, but the Cardinal turned up the defensive pressure, and when the Golden Gophers (23-15) got good looks, they couldn't make them. Sixth-seeded Minnesota missed 16 of its last 19 shots in the first half.

The Cardinal scored 12 straight points to go ahead 29-21 with 4 1/2 minutes left before the break.

Minnesota's Elliott Eliason and Stanford's Dwight Powell had to be separated after getting tangled up on a held ball late in the first half, and the two exchanged words again in the second. Powell was later called for a contact technical foul when the Gophers' Rodney Williams hit the floor face first after being whistled for fouling the Cardinal forward.

Williams stayed on the court for several minutes before walking off under his own power and returned to the game soon thereafter.

It was the fourth foul on Williams, who at that juncture had scored 12 of Minnesota's 30 points. Williams, who made the all-tournament team, finished with 12 to lead the Gophers.

Freshman guard Andre Hollins, who had just four points, also made the all-tournament team.

The injury-riddled Golden Gophers had made a spirited run to the NIT title game. But they hit just three of their 13 3-point attempts Thursday and allowed the Cardinal to shoot 57.1 percent in the second half.

Minnesota had won the first four meetings in the series, though the teams hadn't played since 1975.

Minnesota will return the majority of its core players in 2012-13, potentially including injured senior Trevor Mbakwe, who was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.