The University of Minnesota men's basketball team (18-12) advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT with a 84-70 win over Hawai'i (19-12) this evening at Williams Arena. Maurice Hargrow led Minnesota with 22 points as the Golden Gophers will face the winner of tomorrow night's Temple-Rhode Island contest. The game date, location and time will be determined following that game.
Hawai'i took a 40-36 lead at the half on the hot shooting of Michael Kuebler who scored 15 points on five three-pointers in the half. Minnesota never led in the first half but tied the game at 30 with 4:54 remaining on two free throws from Hargrow. Carl English beat the buzzer at the end of the half with a runner to give the Rainbow Warriors a 40-36 lead at the break.
Hawai'i extended its lead to a game-high nine points at 50-41 with 17:18 left in the second half on another three by Kuebler. However, a Minnesota 11-2 run tied the game at 52-52 with 14:22 to go. Minnesota finally grabbed the lead at 57-56 on a Kevin Burleson fast break layup and never trailed the rest of the way. A 10-0 run gave the Gophers a comfortable 67-58 advantage with 6:45 left. Minnesota eventually extended its lead to as many as 14 points on two occasions down the stretch. The Golden Gophers shot a blistering 68 percent from the floor in the second half.
Ben Johnson added a season-high 18 points while Rick Rickert added 16. Jerry Holman scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
The Rainbow Warriors were led by Kuebler with 20 points while Phil Martin Jr. added 13.
For the NIT Third Round matchup, log onto www.gophersports.com following tomorrow night's Temple-Rhode Island game.
With the victory, Minnesota advances to play the winner of tomorrow night's Temple-Rhode Island game. The game date, time and location will be decided after the contest...Minnesota is 21-8 all-time in the NIT (including vacated games). Minnesota is 4-2 in the NIT under Dan Monson...This was the first meeting between Minnesota and Hawaii...Minnesota is 9-7 against Western Athletic Conference schools. The last time the Golden Gophers faced a team from the WAC was Louisiana Tech in 2000...Minnesota is 53-16 at Williams Arena under Monson...Ben Johnson reached double figures for the sixth time this season. Johnson made a season-high seven field goals...Johnson scored a season-high 18 points... Michael Bauer tied the season record for three-point field goals with 66. He tied Terrance Simmons (2000-01). Bauer also set the season record for three-point field goal attempts with 172...Bauer made a three-pointer for the 19th straight game...Jerry Holman scored in double figures for the 18th time this season and 30th time in his career...Maurice Hargrow scored in double figures for the 25th time this season. Hargrow scored 20+ points for the fourth time in his career...Hargrow scored his 500th career point in the second half...Hargrow tied a career-high with three three-point field goals...Rick Rickert reached double figure scoring for the 22nd straight game and the 26th time this season. He has 48 career double figure scoring games...Rickert scored his 900th career point in the second half...Minnesota's 84 points are the most since notching 90 on Feb. 8 against Purdue.
Riley Wallace - Head Coach for Hawai'i
"We haven't had problems with pressure before, but we're not used to defense with big bodies and long arms. We didn't adjust and got panicky. They did a good job on English. We can get 30 points on a good night, but they wore us down. In the last two weeks, we've been home a total of 21 hours. Kids do get tired. They played smart by pushing it. I thought Monson coached a smart game."
"Once we get tired, we start grabbing and hanging. We got called on it and they made their free throws."
"Minnesota is a good team. They really ran the offensive well. The Big Ten is a very athletic league and they could hold their own with most Big Ten teams until they started to stumble in the end of the season. They could win [the NIT] if they keep turning it up."
Dan Monson - Head Coach for Minnesota
"I'm happy to get out with a win. This was a contrast to Wednesday's game, which was a defensive slugfest. We put them on their heels right away. If they get in a flow, it's tough to get out of. Give this team credit."
"Our offensive played as good as they have in a long time in the second half. They explored the inside before shooting threes. We ran good basic offense and movement. To score 48 points in a half shows something's going right."
"This team is still trying. The effort they are putting out is great. Them showing that they want to continue this season is very gratifying as a coach."
Minnesota Forward Rick Rickert
"We knew that we needed to come out and play our game. The crowd was very supportive and I think that helped us worked through the first half."
Minnesota Guard Ben Johnson
"Hawaii is a good pressing team which forced us to pick up the tempo. I am happy with scoring 18 points, but even happier with our team win. In the second half, my goal was to come off the bench with a spark and help us get over the hump. We need to continue to play the way we have been the last two games and hopefully learn and build from this experience."
Minnesota Center Jerry Holman
"The second half we came out ready. We stayed focused and stuck with the game plan. This win was all about determination. We did not want our season to end. The offense continued to feed the ball and made good shots while our defense kept talking and took Hawaii out of their game."
Minnesota Guard Moe Hargrow
"We knew that Hawaii was good and that this would be a huge game for us. We need to continue to take one game at a time and stay focused on playing our type of game. We did not have a good first half, but we picked things up in the second half by making good shots and knocking down their shots."