Gophers lose second-half lead to Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers discussed end-of-game scenarios often over the last several days with his young team. He reminded Tony Carr about those conversations with three words and a slap on the rear end as the point guard trotted out to attempt two big free throws Saturday.
"You've got this," Chambers said.
Sure enough, he did.
Carr made two foul shots with 5 seconds left, and Penn State beat No. 24 Minnesota 52-50 for its first victory over a ranked opponent in almost a year.
"He wanted the basketball," Chambers said. "Make or miss, no matter what happened today, you've got yourself a really good point guard who's got a lot of courage."
Mike Watkins had 15 points and 15 rebounds and Payton Banks added 10 points for the Nittany Lions (11-7, 3-2 Big Ten) who recovered from a 32-22 halftime deficit.
It was Penn State's first win over a Top 25 team since Feb. 17 against then-No. 4 Iowa at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Reggie Lynch scored 12 points for the Golden Gophers (15-4, 3-3), who were outscored 26-15 over the final 17 minutes after leading by as many as 14 in first half.
"It was about as disappointing as it gets," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. "Not sure what we were doing at the end. We didn't block out twice, we got stops obviously, you hold a team to 30 percent, you think you have an opportunity to win the game."
Penn State grabbed its first lead of the game on Watkins' three-point play with 9:59 remaining. Banks made a big 3 with 2:12 remaining and Watkins hit two key free throws, setting up Carr's big play in the final seconds.
Watkins went 6 for 9 from the field and 3 for 3 at the line in his fourth double-double of the season. The redshirt freshman also had a blocked shot in the second half that help the Nittany Lions turn it around.
Amir Coffey, the Gophers' second-leading scorer on the season, took a hard foul with 8:13 to play when Josh Reaves got him as he lifted off for a fast-break layup. Coffey went down hard on his face and shoulder and needed a few moments to regain his senses.
He was able to return and made both free throws.
THE BIG PICTURE
Minnesota: Pitino wasn't pleased with his team's lack of physicality in its loss to Michigan State on Wednesday, and the Gophers got outrebounded 37-31 by the Nittany Lions. But Minnesota held Penn State to 30 percent shooting (17 for 56).
Penn State: The Nittany Lions might be able to build off their strong second half against Minnesota. They also can point to their rebounding advantage as a sign of improvement.
Minnesota hosts No. 18 Wisconsin on Saturday.
Penn State hosts Indiana on Wednesday night.