Gophers play halfway through 58-50 loss

by Brian Hall

A dejected Dan Monson sat in front of reporters and answered questions concerning his basketball team’s slow start in the second half of Minnesota’s past two games.

Monson watched as UNC-Wilmington used a 13-1 run to turn a nine-point halftime deficit into a three-point lead. This performance comes after Texas-Pan American scored the first six points of the second half on Saturday.

“That doesn’t bode well for my half-time speeches does it?” Monson said. “I don’t have an answer. We are not good enough to not play 40 minutes. I don’t know if they get a false sense of security.”

While Minnesota overcame the Broncs run on Saturday, the Seahawks used the momentum to pull off a 58-50 win at Williams Arena on Tuesday night in front of 12,069 fans.

“We played hard but when we got down guys didn’t have enough fight in them,” junior Kevin Burleson said. “We weren’t fighting for rebounds, boxing out, doing the little things. The fight wasn’t there from each of the guys.”

The Gophers started strong, led by the play of their freshmen. Holding an 8-7 lead, Minnesota went on a 12-2 run to open an 11-point lead, its biggest of the game.

All 12 points were scored by freshmen, including Moe Hargrow’s five points.

The Gophers had a two-on-one fast break to end the half, but Wilmington’s Stewart Hare blocked Aaron Robinson’s layup attempt and Minnesota entered the break holding a nine-point lead.

“It was a critical block,” Seahawks coach Jerry Wainwright said. “If they convert it, you are down double digits. We were positive in the locker room but I don’t know if they would have made that last basket how positive we would have been. That would have been deflated us I think.”

The beginning of the second half spelled the end of the Gophers. Using a suffocating defense and slower offensive tempo, Wilmington (3-3) didn’t take long to show Minnesota (4-2) it was not going away.

Starting with a four-point play by Brett Blizzard, the Seahawks made their 13-1 run to take a 35-32 lead. The Gophers reclaimed a one-point lead at 36-35, but the advantage was short-lived as a long distance three-pointer by Hare ñ his only bucket of the game – gave Wilmington the lead for good.

“They outplayed us and outcoached us today,” Monson said. “They deserved to win. Early in the game we were the aggressors. But we got up nine or 11 and as this team has done we didn’t build on it. We let them stick around long enough.

“They switched some things at halftime and we didn’t counteract that.”

The Seahawks outscored Minnesota 36-19 in the second half.

“Bottom line is that we just played bad,” senior Dusty Rychart said. “They were more physical. They were mentally tough and they wanted the game more.”

Forward Eddie Williams led the Seahawks in scoring and rebounding, posting a double-double of 18 points and 11 boards.

The 50-point output is the Gophers lowest since a 43-point effort on Mar. 2, 2000 and the second lowest total in Monson’s three years as head coach.

Despite the loss, Monson was pleased with the performance of his defense.

“I did think defensively it was one of our better efforts,” Monson said. “I was happy with the defensive end but the rebounding and turnovers and the offense mounting on us; we couldn’t overcome all those mistakes.”

The Gophers travel to Georgia on Friday to face the Bulldogs.

Brian Hall covers men’s basketball and welcomes
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