Rick Rickert hit two free throws with 7.6 seconds remaining to give Minnesota a 76-75 emotional win over Penn State this evening in State College, Pa. Minnesota ended the game on a 9-2 run to pick up its first road win of the season and improve to 11-6 and 3-3 in the Big Ten. Penn State fell to 5-12, 0-6 in the Big Ten. Penn State had a final possession but Michael Bauer deflected a Brandon Watkins pass as time expired.
In the second half, Minnesota took its largest lead of the game at 51-37 on a Michael Bauer three-point play. However, Penn State went on a 10-0 run to close within four points with 14:12 left. Two baskets by Ndu Egekeze tied the game at 53-53 with 12:08 remaining. After the teams traded baskets three times, Penn State used a 6-0 run to take a 63-59 lead. PSU took its largest lead on a Brandon Watkins jumper to lead 71-65 with 5:30 left. Minnesota battled back to within one point at 75-74 after Rick Rickert hit two free throws with 51 seconds left. Rickert then nailed the game- clinching free throws with 7.6 seconds left.
Minnesota controlled much of the first half. The Golden Gophers led 15-8 at the 13:12 mark but a 8-0 Nittany Lion run gave PSU a 16-15 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the half. Ben Johnson capped a 6-0 Minnesota run with a running layup and the Gophers took the lead again at 21-16 and Minnesota didn't relinquish the lead again in the first half. A Kevin Burleson trey with 1:02 left gave Minnesota a 43-31 lead. Minnesota eventually led 45-33 at the intermission. Michael Bauer led the Gophers with 11 points, hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the half. The Gophers shot 53.6 percent from the field.
Bauer led all Minnesota scorers for the game with 20 points while Rickert and Maurice Hargrow added 13. Bauer also added a career-best six assists. Watkins led Penn State with 20 points while Aaron Johnson scored 18 with 10 rebounds.
Minnesota returns to action on Saturday afternoon when it hosts Michigan at Williams Arena. The tip is set for 1:30 p.m.