Gophers stop losing streak with stunner over No. 6 Maryland
MINNEAPOLIS -- Williams Arena public address announcer Dick Jonckowski celebrated his 30th season of calling games at The Barn on Thursday, and as the clock ticked down on one of the most surprising nights of his career, he couldn't contain himself.
"Gophers win! Gophers win! Gophers win!" Jonckowski hollered as more than 10,000 fans rushed the court. "How about that? The Gophers win!"
Nate Mason had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists to help Minnesota get its first Big Ten win of the season with a stunning 68-63 upset of No. 6 Maryland, the Golden Gophers' first victory in more than two months.
Jordan Murphy added 17 points and 11 rebounds and Joey King had 15 points and six boards for Minnesota (7-19, 1-13), which shot just 33 percent.
The disbelief could be heard in Jonckowski's voice and seen on the faces of the euphoric fans and players, including King, who openly wept during a postgame interview with the Big Ten Network.
"We knew our time was coming," said King, the lone senior remaining on the team. "It just took a little longer than expected."
Rasheed Sulaimon scored 28 points for Maryland (22-5, 10-4), which has lost consecutive games thanks to another listless performance. Melo Trimble had 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting and the Terrapins turned the ball over 15 times. They have lost two straight for the first time this season, including a sloppy home loss to Wisconsin earlier in the week.
"I've got to figure out a way to get us going again," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "We're not ourselves."
It was Minnesota's first Big Ten regular season win since beating Michigan State on Feb. 26, 2015, and its first win of any kind since downing Chicago State on Dec. 16.
The Gophers have slogged through a miserable season in coach Richard Pitino's third year on the job, sinking lower and lower with each defeat and turning the once-magical Williams Arena into a lifeless building with thousands of empty seats.
The Barn used to shake on nights like this, when a highly ranked opponent would come in to face an undermanned Gophers team, and the sheer volume, combined with the raised court, was usually good for four or five points on Minnesota's behalf. Those days are gone, and the Gophers have morphed from a team that you never wanted to see on the schedule to a welcome respite amid the rigors of the Big Ten season.
That all changed Thursday night, if only for one game.
The Gophers hit 7 of 10 3-point attempts in the first 10 minutes of the game to build an 11-point lead, and the Terrapins played like a team that looked at Minnesota's record and figured showing up would be enough. Trimble missed seven of his first eight shots, the Terrapins gave up wide open shots on the perimeter one after another and hit only 35 percent in the first half to give the Gophers life.
The first "Over-rated!" chants started to ring around the 10-minute mark, and that's when Sulaimon got going. He scored nine points in a 12-4 burst that cut the deficit to four points with just over 7 minutes to play.
The Terrapins were coming off a lackluster performance in a home loss to Wisconsin and were playing without freshman Diamond Stone, who was suspended one game for a hard foul of a Badgers player in that loss.
"We have a bad stretch right now," Sulaimon said. "This is the first real adversity that we've had. Every team goes through it. It's ebbs and flows in the season, we just got to figure it out."
King, Mason and Murphy hit free throws down the stretch to hold off the Terrapins.
"They deserve to walk around campus and not be ashamed of themselves," Pitino said.
Stone was third on the team with 12.8 points per game, and the Terrapins could have used his 6-foot-11 size and presence inside.
"It probably hurt us," Turgeon said. "We missed him."
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I can start going inside to Starbucks instead of going through the drive-thru." -- Pitino.
Maryland: Jake Layman was the only other Terrapin in double figures with 11 points. ... Trimble is 4 for 25 in his last two games.
Minnesota: This was the first game since senior Carlos Morris, the Gophers' fourth-leading scorer, was kicked off the team for conduct detrimental to the team. ... After the Gophers' hot start from 3 they hit just 1 of their next 12 and finished 8 for 23.
Maryland: Hosts Michigan on Sunday.
Minnesota: Hosts Rutgers on Tuesday.