The Golden Gopher men's basketball (16-9, 8-6) lost 69-61 to the Wisconsin Badgers (21-6, 11-4) in Williams Arena today. Minnesota came back from a 10-point halftime deficit to close within two at 63- 61 with 53 seconds remaining but Freddie Owens hit a leaner to seal the game with 20 seconds left. The loss snapped a six-game home winning streak for the Golden Gophers.
In the second half, Minnesota started a 12-5 run at the 13:33 mark when Steve Esselink swished a three-pointer to bring the score to 43- 37. Aaron Robinson brought the Gophers within two when he made a three-pointer of his own at the 9:06 mark. A three-pointer by Kirk Penney swelled the Badger lead back to five. Just over a minute later, R ick Rickert answered with a three of his own to cut the score to 54-52 with six minutes left. After two Alando Tucker free throws and a Maurice Hargow jumper, the score was 56-54, but the Badgers scored the next four to take a 60-54 lead with four minutes remaining. Minnesota cut the Wisconsin lead to two on two more occasions but weren't able to sneak ahead.
Wisconsin took an early lead claiming a 10-point lead at the 13:19 mark. Minnesota then went on a 7-2 run, capped by a Bauer three- pointer to bring the score to 18-13 cutting the Badgers' lead to just five. Wisconsin bounced back and pushed their lead to 13 at the 4:06 point with a three-pointer from Boo Wade. The Golden Gophers then went on a 7-2 run to come within eight with just 1:44 on the clock. A fast-break dunk by Alando Tucker with under a minute remaining gave Wisconsin a 37-27 lead at the end of the half.
Both teams shot well throughout the game. Wisconsin shot 53.8 percent while Minnesota fired 53.1 percent. The difference in the game was made at the free throw line where the Badgers were 18-of-21 while Minnesota was just 1-of-5, both season-lows.
Rickert led Minnesota with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He has scored over 20 points in four of the last six games. J erry Holman added 10 points.
Kirk Penney and Alando Tucker led Wisconsin with 16 points apiece. Penney hit 5-of-7 threes while Tucker was 5-of-6 from the field and 6- of-6 from the free throw line. Owens added 12 points.
Minnesota heads to Indiana on Tuesday night for a 6 p.m. game.
o Minnesota leads the all-time series 96-80 (including games later vacated by Minnesota due to NCAA infractions). Minnesota leads the series 63-29 in Minneapolis. Minnesota is 1-6 against Wisconsin under Dan Monson...The loss snaps a six-game home winning streak for Minnesota...Minnesota is 52-16 at Williams Arena under Monson. Minnesota finishes its home schedule with a 14-3 record, the best under Monson...The 10-point halftime deficit is the second-largest of the season for Minnesota. The largest was 15 at Nebraska (41-26)...Today's crowd of 14,907 is a sellout and the second straight against Wisconsin at Williams Arena. It is the largest crowd since the Williams Arena renovation in 1994...J erry Holman scored in double figures for the 14th time this season and 26th time in his career. Minnesota is 20-5 when Holman scores in double figures for his career...R ick Rickert reached double figure scoring for the 17th straight game and the 21st time this season. He has 43 career double figure scoring games...Rickert topped the 20-point mark for the 14th time in his career and the fourth time in the last six games. Minnesota is 12-2 when Rickert reaches 20 points...With three three-point field goals, M ichael Bauer has made at least one three in each of the last 14 games...Bauer moved into fourth on the single-season three-point field goal list with 54 treys this season...Minnesota had season-lows for free throws attempted (5) and made (1)...Minnesota shot a Big Ten season-best 53.1 percent from the field...M aurice Hargrow scored a season-low two points...B en Johnson returned to action for the first time since Feb. 8 and played two minutes. He missed the last five games with mononucleosis.
Minnesota Head Coach Dan Monson
"Obviously this was a tough loss. They guys are hurting. That is good because it means a lot to them and it is good when it means a lot to them in March. We have to pick up the pieces and turn it around in twenty-four hours."
"They (Wisconsin) are one of the best teams in the country at playing ahead. We had to pick up the tempo of the game. The same thing happened at Michigan State, where we just couldn't dictate the tempo the whole game. They were very patient. We were able to dictate the tempo in the second half, but we just couldn't get a lead. And we weren't able to do it down the stretch."
"They just don't foul. I don't know how they do it, but they lead the country in not fouling. We went to Rick nearly every time and her never got to the line."
"Our press lead to some turnovers, but it also is to dictate the tempo. I didn't have any problems with our defense in the second half. A ten point lead for Wisconsin is like a fifteen or twenty point lead for any other team."
Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan
"Any time you can come into an environment like this and win is big. Minnesota is a good team and they played well. They played with a lot of energy, got the crowd going. This is a competitive environment. We played well which was good for our confidence. We showed what we can do and took advantage of our opportunities."
"We found their soft spots. They do a good job on their home court. We saw a lot of tape of them taking a lot of teams out of games. Fortunately, we were able to overcome that."
On the possibility of winning another Big Ten Title
"The way things are in college basketball, you want to be playing well period at the end of the season. I'm not going to address it. We're just going to stick with what we've been doing."
Minnesota Forward J eff Hagen
"Whenever you give Wisconsin a lead early, it always makes it a lot tougher to come back because of they way they play. We just couldn't get over the hump even though we made a run in the second half."
"It was a draining game. We got so hyped up and even though we are down now, we need to focus on turning it around for Indiana next week."
Minnesota Forward M ichael Bauer
"Wisconsin is one of the best in the nation with a lead. We didn't hit shots early and it put us in a hole we couldn't get out of."
"It was fun to play in a game with such energy and we need to keep that for Indiana next week. They may not be playing too well right now but they are tough at home and we need to close the season with a couple wins. If we can play well, it may prove we are a team that belongs in the (NCAA) tournament."
Minnesota Guard Ke vin Burleson
"It was a tough game and we'd be feeling much better if we would have pulled it out. Our team put a lot into this game and it was tough emotionally for us too. We're disappointed with ourselves right now because we got outplayed."
"Our back's are against the wall right now. We need some crisp practices the next few days to get a win at Indiana. We need to finish strong and play with a lot of energy."