Gophers rally falls short against Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Patrick Chambers knew Minnesota would apply the pressure; he wanted to see if his Penn State ball club could stand up to it.
D.J. Newbill scored 12 points, Jordan Dickerson blocked a shot with 4 seconds left and Penn State held off a late Minnesota rally to defeat the Gophers 63-58 Wednesday night.
The Lions committed 16 turnovers because of Minnesota’s second-half, man-to-man defensive pressure that got it back into the game but were able to force the Gophers into 15 miscues of their own.
And Newbill was 10 points below his average but scored 10 of the Lions’ final 14 points, had a game-high 11 rebounds and added five assists.
"I was excited about our team stepping up for D.J. when he wasn’t himself," Chambers said. "Then for a fifth-year senior to step up the way he did and get himself to the free throw line.
"That’s what you want your leader to do and D.J.’s done that all year."
Penn State (14-7, 2-6 Big Ten) led by 10 points at the half and was without starting forward Brandon Taylor (knee). The Gophers (13-9, 2-7) shot their way back into a 46-45 lead before Devin Foster gave the Lions a lead they would hold for their second straight conference victory.
Geno Thorpe and Payton Banks each scored nine and Foster added eight for the Lions, who shot 42 percent from the field and were 16 of 21 from the free throw line.
Donovon Jack blocked four shots and Dickerson three on defense and the Lions had 14 assists on offense to go with 50 shots.
"Ross Travis and Jordan Dickerson did some really good things down the stretch keeping them out of the paint," Chambers said.
Minnesota’s Andre Hollins scored 17 points but no other teammates were in double figures and the Gophers were outrebounded by Penn State 36-28. They shot 6 of 22 from long range and 39 percent overall.
"It’s really, really hard to win when we did the things we did offensively," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "It’s really difficult to win that way."
Hollins’ 3-pointer gave Minnesota its only lead of the half.
"We weren’t really, really good tonight but you have to give Penn State credit and we just made too many miscues at the end of the game to ever win a basketball game," Pitino said. "We have to learn from it and move on."
Minnesota’s last three losses have been by 3, 2 and 5 points but this one felt different, according to Pitino. The Gophers’ final four possessions resulted in a steal, two missed layups and a turnover.
"I don’t think there’s anyone in the locker room going ‘oh, woe is me,’" Pitino said. "We didn’t deserve to win tonight. This was sloppy, sloppy offensive basketball. This one is not a whole lot of silver lining in my opinion."
Maurice Walker’s baseline turnover gave Penn State the ball with 46 seconds left, Minnesota pressed on the inbounds pass and DeAndre Mathieu stole Newbill’s pass and went in for an uncontested layup to make it 60-58.
Still up by two, Penn State’s Thorpe was fouled and made 1 of 2 from the line for a three-point lead. Minnesota’s ensuing possession resulted in a Hollins turnover and Shep Garner made 1 of 2 free throws for a 62-58 lead.
Walker dribbled through the lane but opted to come back out and had the ball stolen by Newbill who was fouled with 9.5 seconds left.
"Coach said to drive it a lot more and get to the free throw line," Newbill said. "I usually make some of those shots. But I stayed aggressive and kept attacking. Just because I was having an off night doesn’t mean I’m going to stay back and not be myself."
Tip ins: The Gophers held Penn State’s Newbill, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, to five shots and two first-half points. The Lions still managed to close with an 18-5 run for a 10-point lead thanks to just 30-percent shooting by the Gophers. . . . Minnesota opened the season 11-2 but had won just two of its last eight going into Wednesday’s game. . . . Minnesota is ranked second nationally in steals (10.7) and sixth in assists (17.5). . . . Five of Minnesota’s six conference losses have been by five points or fewer.
In the crowd: Matt Adams, the first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, attended the game. He grew up just west of Penn State in Philipsburg.
Up next: Minnesota faces Nebraska at home on Saturday.