April 2, 2014Photo Gallery
NEW YORK -- Substitute center Maurice Walker made six free throws in overtime and Minnesota held off Florida State 67-64 on Tuesday night to reach the NIT championship game.
Austin Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu scored 17 points apiece for the Golden Gophers (24-13), who squandered a 15-point cushion and overcame Devon Bookert's tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation. They will play Thursday night against fellow top seed SMU in a title game that certainly features a New York flavor on the sidelines.
Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, of course, is the son of former Knicks and current Louisville coach Rick Pitino. He'll go up against Hall of Famer Larry Brown, who was born in Brooklyn and coached the Knicks himself long before taking over the Mustangs.
Okaro White had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the top-seeded Seminoles (22-14), who have never won a national postseason tournament. Reserve Ian Miller also scored 16, but missed a 3 at the overtime buzzer that would have tied it.
Bookert had 13 points for Florida State, including its last seven in regulation and first two in the extra session. But the Seminoles made only one field goal in overtime; Miller's reverse layup that cut it to 66-64 with 6.1 seconds left.
Andre Hollins made one of two free throws after that, and the Gophers held on.
Walker started in place of top center Elliott Eliason, who injured his ankle in practice last week, and finished with nine points and a team-high six rebounds. Andre Hollins scored 13 for Minnesota, which got all seven of its points in overtime at the foul line, with Walker going 6 for 8.
Florida State's Aaron Thomas managed only three points on 1-of-8 shooting before fouling out with 19.1 seconds left in the second half. Thomas entered as the tournament's leading scorer with an average of 23 points in his first three games.
Florida State trailed by 15 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the opening half before chipping away at the deficit. Thomas tied it at 45 on a free throw with 8:16 remaining in regulation, but Austin Hollins countered with a 3-pointer to put Minnesota back in front.
White hit two free throws, made a basket inside and then gave the Seminoles their first lead at 51-50 on two foul shots with 4:10 to play in the second half.
But the Gophers scored the next two baskets and were up 60-57 with 7.4 seconds left when Malik Smith went to the foul line with a chance to just about seal it. He missed both shots, however, and Bookert dribbled up the court, cut to his right and drained a 3 that tied it at 60 with 0.3 seconds to go.
Officials reviewed the replay to make sure he was behind the arc, and the call was upheld.
Minnesota went on runs of 10-0 and 11-0 in the first half and opened a 28-13 lead on a dunk by Austin Hollins with 6:36 remaining. Florida State scored seven of the final nine points to cut its deficit to 30-20 at halftime.
The Gophers went 7 of 14 on 3-pointers to 1 of 9 for the Seminoles and scored 18 points off 11 first-half turnovers by Florida State.
Preview: Gophers vs. NJIT
The men's basketball team returns to the Barn Tuesday to begin a six-game December homestand.
Minnesota holds off Vanderbilt in 56-52 win
Minnesota erased a 12-point first half deficit and hung on Saturday to defeat Vanderbilt 56-52.
Preview: Gophers vs. Vanderbilt
The Minnesota men's basketball team returns to Sioux Falls to face the Commodores on Saturday.