Minnesota closed out its non-conference schedule this afternoon with a 79-46 victory over Sacred Heart (1-9) at Williams Arena. The Golden Gophers had four players in double figure scoring and limited the Pioneers to just 27 percent shooting to improve to 8-3 on the season.
Sacred Heart showed sopme grit in the first half, taking a 12-11 lead six minutes into the game but a 14-0 Minnesota run gave the Golden Gophers the lead for good. The Gophers owned a 36-22 lead at the intermission.
The Golden Gophers dominated the second half, leading by as many as 36 points. After Sacred Heart cut the lead to 39-29 with an 8-1 run to open the second half, the Golden Gophers quickly went on a 22-3 run of its own to take a 60-32 lead with just over nine minutes left.
Minnesota dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Pioneers 51-26. Minnesota also shot 50 percent from the floor but was hindered by 23 turnovers.
Rick Rickert led Minnesota with 14 points while Jeff Hagen added a career-high 12 points and nine rebounds. Maurice Hargrow and Aaron Robinson added 11 points.
Sacred Heart was led by Maurice Bailey with 18 points.
Minnesota opens Big Ten play on Tuesday when it hosts Illinois at 6:00 p.m.
Post Game Notes
Minnesota is 38-11 in non-conference games under Dan Monson. The Golden Gophers are 32-4 in non-conference games at Williams Arena under Monson...This was the first meeting between Minnesota and Sacred Heart...Minnesota is 3-0 all-time against the Northeast Conference... Steve Esselink started his second consecutive game, his second career start... Jeff Hagen scored a career-high 12 points, making a career-high four field goals...Hagen scored in double figures for the second time in his career and this first time since his first career game against UNC Greensboro on 11/17/00...Hagen tied his career mark for rebounds with 9 (last time vs. Oral Roberts 1/1/03)... Aaron Robinson scored a career-high 11 points, setting new career marks for field goals attempted (3) and made (5). He also tied career-highs for rebounds (4), assists (4) and minutes played (14)... Maurice Hargrow scored in double figures for the 10th time in 11 games this season and the 11th time in his career... Rick Rickert scored in double figures for the seventh time this season and the 29th time in his career... Matt Smriga scored his first point as a Golden Gopher in the second half... Jerry Holman tied a career-high with nine rebounds... Steve Esselink grabbed a career-high six rebounds...Holman has blocked at least one shot in 13 straight games, dating back to last season...With four three-point field goal attempts, Kevin Burleson moved into second all-time at Minnesota with 373. His two converted treys give him 125 for his career, just two away from moving into third all-time with Quincy Lewis...Minnesota tied a season-high with 51 rebounds...This was Minnesota's largest margin of victory this season (33 points). It's the largest margin since beating New Mexico by 34 in the first round of the 2002 NIT (96-62)...Sacred Heart shot just 27.4 percent, the worst by a Minnesota opponent this season.
Post Game Quotes
Dan Monson - Minnesota Head Coach
"I don't know what we can learn for this game that we should have know already. I'm more disappointed in our rebounding and how we took care of the ball. We are not learning from each other, not learning from mistakes."
"Our 23 turnovers were committed by 10 different guys. I can't point at a single person - all are making mistakes with the ball. It's a little like free throw shooting - the more you pressure them about it, the more mistakes they are going to make. We need to learn from mistakes. There's a lot to learn, but it's Big Ten time. We need to address them in practice before Tuesday's game."
On coming out the second half
"We were up 17 and then we didn't concentrate and we had the same lapses that we've been having. We have to have those guys [the main starters] play; I can't keep benching them. Those guys are key. We have to let them play through things sometimes. As a coach, I need to know when to push buttons to get things done. We played well in stretches. We were not disciplined enough, not tight enough. In the Big Ten, we can't have to lapses that we've had."
Senior Guard Kevin Burleson
"It's always tough playing against teams that don't have the same amount of talent as you. Any time you aren't playing to your potential and start to get out of character, it's hard not to press and do things you shouldn't be doing. Today's game we showed that. And I think coach got his message across that our level of play was unacceptable. If we were not playing like he wanted us to play, he pulled us right out."
"It's tough to say what this game does to us going into the Big Ten season. We did not fine-tune the areas that needed improving before we start conference play, but if this game showed us anything, it showed us that if we don't play like we should, we're going to be sitting on the bench."
Sophomore Guard Aaron Robinson
"It feels good to have a game like today. I sit on the bench a lot and have to observe what I need to do when I get my chances. I've always felt that I need to be a spark, make things happen. I was satisfied with my play today because I was able to do that."
"With the way the lineups have been shuffled in recent games, I saw I had a chance to show what I could bring to the floor. The last two games, I feel I have capitalized on my increased playing time and am very confident heading into the Big Ten season."