Anaheim, Calif. - The University of Minnesota men's basketball team suffered its first loss of the season this evening (Nov. 27), falling 61-56 to the University of Portland in the semifinals of the 76 Classic.
The 16th-ranked Gophers fall to 4-1 on the season, while the Pilots stay unbeaten on the year at 5-0.
The Pilots' lead got to as much as 10 in the first half, at 26-16 with 4:34 left to play before the break. A lay-up by Paul Carter (Little Rock, Ark.) with 1:35 left cut the lead to three at 30-27, but a Portland three-pointer on the next possession gave the Pilots a 33-27 lead heading into the intermission.
The Gophers came out of the locker rooms hot to start the second half, and erased the Pilot lead by the 17:44 mark when a Lawrence Westbrook (Chandler, Ariz.) bucket tied the game at 34-34. However, that was a close as the Gophers could get, and 10 minutes later a T.J. Campbell three-pointer stretched the Pilots' lead back to 10 at 53-43.
Campbell would go on to finish with a game high 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-8 from behind the arc, as well as 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. As a team, Portland was 17-of-21 at the line on the night, compared to 13-of-22 for Minnesota.
The last chance for the Gophers came after Al Nolen (Minneapolis) brought them within a basket at 56-54 with his jumper at the 3:14 mark. The Pilots would answer by outscoring the Gophers 5-2 over the final three minutes, including one final three-pointer by Campbell, to secure the 61-56 win.
Nolen led three Gophers in double figures with 13 points on the night, including a 7-of-9 tally at the free throw line. Westbrook and Devoe Joseph (Pickering, Ontario) also finished in double figures with 11 points each.
The Gophers were out-rebounded 42-to-33, and were led on the boards by Ralph Sampson III (Duluth, Ga.), who finished with six. From downtown, the Gophers finished just 3-of-19, which included an 0-for-12 mark it the second half. Portland finished 8-of-25 from behind the arc on the night, which helped offset its 19 turnovers in the game. Minnesota, meanwhile, turned the ball over just 10 times.
The Gophers will close out the 76 Classic on Sunday, Nov. 29, against Texas A&M. The game is scheduled to tip at 4:00 p.m. (CT) and can be seen on ESPN2.