Gophers lose sixth straight at Williams Arena against Nebraska

The Gophers are now 3-10 in the Big Ten.

<p>Freshman guard Isaiah Washington darts around Nebraska forward Isaiah Roby during the game against Nebraska on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Williams Arena.</p>

Ellen Schmidt

Freshman guard Isaiah Washington darts around Nebraska forward Isaiah Roby during the game against Nebraska on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Williams Arena.

Jack Warrick

Nate Mason sank back-to-back 3-point shots and scored a layup in the final minute of the game to get the crowd to stop funneling out of the stadium and keep their eyes glued to the court.

But Mason’s effort would prove to have no effect on the outcome as Nebraska sank four free throws to stay on top.

Guard Nate Mason sank back-to-back 3-point shots and a layup in the final minute of the game, which kept the crowd from funneling out of the stadium.

But Mason’s effort would prove to have no effect on the outcome as Nebraska made four free throws to stay on top.

Minnesota (14-12, 3-10 Big Ten) lost to Nebraska (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten) on Tuesday night 91-85 at Williams Arena, dropping its ninth game in its past 10. 

“They’re fighting, they’re giving us everything they got,” head coach Richard Pitino said. “The guys, I mean, to do what they did with four players down, really really hard. So, proud of them for that.”

The Gophers finally recovered from a15-point first half deficit when forward Michael Hurt tied the game up at 9:40 left in the game.  He sunk a contested layup, was fouled and made the free throw to tie the game at 62.

But Nebraska went on an 8-0 scoring run and stayed well ahead of the Gophers up until Mason’s two 3-point makes in the final minute to pull the score within four points.

“We can’t have little stretches like that where we give up big runs because obviously how short-handed we are,” Hurt said.

Mason led the team with a career-high 34 points — eight of those in the final minute — shooting 7-9 from beyond the arc with six assists. 

“I mean [Mason] played his butt off,” forward Jordan Murphy said. “I think confidence-wise, I mean I think he’s been feeling it lately so we definitely keep going to him.”

Murphy had 22 points and 13 rebounds — his 21st double-double, while guard Isaiah Washington had 10 points and eight assists in the matchup.

The Gophers started the first half with seven unanswered points. But the Cornhuskers shot 7-10 from 3-point range to take a late 15-point lead. However, the Gophers went into the locker room with things moving in the right direction. Washington scored a buzzer beater 3-point shot to cap off a Gophers 7-0 scoring run, making the halftime score 44-37, Gophers trailing.

Guard Amir Coffey was out with a shoulder injury for his third consecutive game, and a recurring leg injury kept Dupree McBrayer out for the second half. He had zero points on 14 minutes played in the first half.

“At half time we just decided: ‘shut him down’,” Pitino said. “I don’t know what his status is moving forward so we’ll just see,”

Nebraska dealt Minnesota it’s first Big Ten loss of the season in early December when the Gophers shot 32 percent to lose to the Cornhuskers 78-68. The Gophers were ranked No. 14 and had their original starting five for that game as Coffey was not yet injured and center Reggie Lynch wasn’t suspended.

“It is a completely different team,” Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said. “Thirteen scholarships seems like a lot until you start taking pieces out of there.”

The Gophers will play Indiana (13-12, 6-7 Big Ten) in Bloomington on Friday.