Rychart fuels another Minnesota win, 66-57

Mark Heller

Dusty Rychart has now played two games since grabbing Clem Haskins’ last scholarship before his departure.
And coach Dan Monson and the Gophers men’s basketball team are reaping the benefits.
Rychart was everywhere he needed to be in the Gophers’ 66-57 victory over Marquette at Williams Arena on Tuesday.
Whether he looked in or out of position, he did enough to collect 22 points and 12 rebounds. And he made more free throws (eight) than the entire Marquette team (six).
“I can remember all the way back to elementary school. Every time I try hard to go get the ball, it goes off opposite of where I go,” Rychart said. “Sometimes I lay back and let everyone else fight for it and it just happens to fall in my hands. God-given ability I guess, if you can call it ability.”
Whether or not it’s ability didn’t seem to matter Tuesday. The Gophers (2-0) needed everything they could get from Rychart to hold off the Eagles (1-1) in what was a sluggish offensive game from both teams.
After building a 34-24 halftime lead — thanks to Rychart’s 14 points and eight rebounds — Marquette cut the lead to six. Sophomore center Joel Przybilla picked up his third and fourth fouls with 12 minutes left in the second half. He finished with 10 points, but just three rebounds and only one block.
“We’re cruising along with Joel at two fouls and 30 seconds later he’s got four,” Monson said. “Those last two could have gone either way.
“He’s such a focal point of the offense this season, everybody is taking the ball at him right away. If they get him out of the game, teams know it hurts us.”
Even with Przybilla in foul trouble and eight points off the bench (all from Mitch Ohnstad), Minnesota still escaped with a win. Monson expected a tougher game from the Eagles than Texas-Arlington brought last Saturday.
It was.
Minnesota shot 41 percent in the first half and missed all four of their three-point attempts. Despite having 34 free-throw attempts to Marquette’s 14, the Gophers shot a mere 59 percent from the charity stripe. They also gave up 20 offensive rebounds.
Still, it was enough, thanks to Rychart and pressure defense in the second half. The Gophers forced 24 Eagles turnovers — 12 on steals — while Marquette shot just 35 percent from the field in the second half.
Marquette got within 51-41 with under seven minutes left, but Rychart hit back-to-back shots, then threw an alley-oop to Przybilla for a 57-41 lead. The Eagles never got closer than six the rest of the way.
“(Rychart is) excellent,” Eagles coach Tom Crean said. “He never stops moving. He deserves everything he gets and he’s a great weapon.”
On Tuesday, he was practically the Gophers’ only weapon.
“We had spurts where we’d pull it open to a 15-and 16-point lead and it would fall back to seven or eight,” Rychart said. “It was one of those days you’re fortunate to come out with a win.”

Mark Heller welcomes comments at [email protected]